Monday, May 25, 2009

Extreme Planting

Late May is the moment of truth in the vegetable garden. All those appealing pictures in the catalog, those seedlings lovingly raised for transplant, those visions of harvest and culinary preparation of new varieties, are for naught if they are not planted. We are between the threats of frost of early May and the likely heat waves and thunderstorms of mid-June. Now is the time.

So I find that I am doing as farmers have done forever - planting and working the soil from dawn to dusk, or as nearly as I can. No problem getting to sleep at night - I fall into the bed and turn out the light without ceremony, only to wake with the birds thinking of what to plant where and the other tasks that must precede that. Last winter my (non-gardening) husband announced that he would help me to expand the vegetable garden by removing the turf from more of the back lawn (it is composted and the topsoil used in future years). This had several consequences. I expanded my reach by ordering more varieties and twice as much garlic. Then I decided to plant things I had not tried before (the potatoes are looking fine, not sure if I should have gotten those onion sets), and of course it seemed reasonable to plant more of everything. Now the original garden is nearly full, but with several rows of direct seeded vegetables to go, plus the squash and cucumbers. Meanwhile, my husband sprained a muscle so now I am removing the turf myself from the area where all the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants (plenty of each), currently waiting in the cold frame, are to go.

But the kohlrabi was planted and the stems are starting to swell already.

And we are eating lots of salads from the lettuce, arugula and spinach planted back in March.


Barbara said...

Yea for more turf due to your husband's contribution--but sorry about the strained muscle. My husband and I own a rental property with a large amount of yard space (shaded on the south of the house, full sun on the west of the house) in south Kansas City. He would like to do vegetable gardening, I like flowers, so we would do both. The property could also use a row of evergreen trees along the back fence. What advice would you give us? My husband is retired, so time is not a factor.

Buttercup said...

The vegetables would like the sunny side. Do I understand that you are not living on the property? You might not want something that requires constant maintenance if you are not onsite.

I'm not clear what you mean by liking flowers - but again if you are not living there, an involved landscape doesn't seem to be the ticket.

How about a neat garden in the center of the sunny area with rows of relatively big vegetables like tomatoes and peppers - cabbage and its relatives should also do well - and rows of flowers for cutting along the sides? Easy to maintain because you just hoe or mulch the paths between rows (use something like straw for mulch that can be turned in this fall).

I'm not sure what evergreen trees would be best for your area - check with your local Extension office. They shouldn't be planted to shade the vegetable garden.