Gardening 2015 – Let the season begin!

Gardening 2015 – Let the season begin!

Once the warmer weather got started it didn’t take long for the snow to melt and expose the garden. Gardening has begun!

The top three inches of soil were thawed Saturday afternoon. I had some free time and a lot of seeds so I got to work. It’s much too soon to rototill so I retrieved the pointed hoe from the garden shed and made rows, disturbing very little soil. I amended the soil last fall at the end of the gardening season with leaves I raked off the lawn and aged manure from a local organic farm.

Gardening Tip:

If you do your soil testing the fall rather than spring you’ll be ready to plant when spring arrives. There are fewer soil tests ordered in the fall so the results come back faster than spring, when there’s a stack of samples in front of yours. You’ll be able to start gardening sooner than later.

My stash of pea seeds are aging. I mixed seeds saved from the 2012 growing season with 2013 and 2014. Pea seeds will germinate for two to three years if they’re stored properly. If you do a lot of gardening you can buy enough seeds to last two gardening seasons and save some cash.

Gardening Tip:

Store seeds in closed jars in a cool, dark place. 50° is optimum. A one-inch layer of rice at the bottom of the jar will act as a desiccant.

The trenches are about an inch deep; no need to be precise, they’re just peas. I seeded heavily to make up for what might be poor germination of the older seeds, to have some seedlings to fill in bare spots, and to have others for pea shoots. I’ll thin the seedlings if necessary.

Gardening Tip:

Plants need adequate room to produce to their full potential. You’ll use less seed and pick more food if you space your seeds out according to the planting instructions.

gardening season, garden, pea seeds

Poke pea seeds in after the soil settles.

I dropped all of the seeds into four rows then covered them with the hoe. By Sunday afternoon the soil was settling and a few peas were showing. By this morning (it’s Monday) more peas were out, some of them sitting on top of the settled soil. The chickens and ducks are free ranging until there’s something in the garden they can bother. I poked the peas back into the soil with my fingers, pushed soil over others, and gave the chickens some corn far away from the garden. I don’t like to keep them penned longer than necessary. They do a great job of pest control.

gardening, bantam silkies, silkie bantams, bantam chickens

A White Silkie stands out amongst the Buff Silkies. They spend the entire day roaming for insects.

Beets do well in cold soil. The soil should be 50° in the top few inches. I plant a month or so before the average last frost date. I planted a small block between metal ribs. If it were to get too cold or we had a foot of snow coming (gasp! but it happens) I could cover the ribs with greenhouse poly to keep the seedlings protected. The rows are three and a half feet long and approximately six inches apart. Beet “seeds” are a cluster of two to five seeds. Space your seeds out so each seedling has enough room.

gardeningOne of the blocks between the ribs is filled with spinach. Spinach will germinate when the soil is 38°. It will take longer at 38° than 50° and warmer but if you’ve got free time, get planting. I’ll plant another crop of spinach in early September for baby leaves in early October and mature leaves for a few weeks before I close the last of the garden in late November.

With one short row left, I returned to the house for a package of Tango lettuce seeds. I’m heavy fingered with these tiny seeds so I’ll use some of the young leaves in salad and do a little transplanting.

Are you gardening yet? What do you have planted?

Joining Homestead Blog Hop #29!