Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Time to Plant: Broccoli, Onions, Peas

We are so excited to get our 2010 garden going. We went last week to our local hardware store to buy some broccoli plants, onion sets and peas, which are all frost hardy garden plants. We haven't had time to get them put in until today. Despite a cold rain and the threat of snow, we were out there planting. I would not call us expert gardeners, we are very much still learning as we go. Each year we get better. I will post our progress,planting schedule, successes/failures as we go this year.

We prepared our 2nd raised bed similar to what we did when we planted garlic last fall, this time I will spare you from a picture of our manure pile. You can read about it here. We planted an entire lengthwise row of peas and one row of onions. The peas are called Alaskan Early Peas and the onions are Texas Supersweets.

We planted 6 peas per square (though can plant 9-12 per square). 3 on either side of a trellis that they can climb. It helps to get the peas going, if they are soaked first to soften them up before they are planted.
They should be ready in 50 to 60 days, end of April, beginning of May.

The onions were actually onion plants which are different than the onions I planted last year because they still have the green part and the roots. Last year my onions weren't too successful because I think I didn't plant them deep enough (they were popping out of the ground before they were ready) but the instructions on these onions said plant no deeper than 1". So we will see. Also I'm not too good with underground plants because I am not patient enough and pull them before they are ready. So this year I am planting about 50% more than I would think I need. I planted 9 per square. They should be ready in 100 to 120 days, or 3-4 months, or sometime in May or June. I need to remember this.

I learned my lesson last year and decided not to plant any broccoli in the raised beds. They just take up too much room and they are not done producing when I'm ready to plant my summer veggies. Last year I had moments of standing over the broccoli plants saying "Come on! Be done already!!" I felt kind of bad rushing them along, only to yank them out when I just couldn't wait any longer.

We have a conventional garden next to the raised beds. This is where the broccoli is going this year, so it will have plenty of room and plenty of time to live life to the fullest. Which should be 50-70 days, Mid April - May.

The raised beds are planted with the square foot gardening method for high yield. The pros to this are the lack of weeds, high yield and ease of planting (can till easily by hand since no one ever walks in the garden) The cons are that I felt last year everything got so crowded it was hard to tell what was what and if you don't plan correctly smaller plants can get pushed out by the larger ones.

I have a better game plan this year. I planted small underground plants in the first row of each bed (onions, garlic) and I will plant medium size plants in the middle row and then climbing plants on the 3rd row with the trellis. I have one trellis row open. I will plant cucumbers in that row early, then by the time the peas are done in the other box, I will plant more cucumbers so I can extend my cucumber growing season for maximum pickle production. That's the plan anyway. Last year the cucumbers were coming faster than I could make pickles. It was a lot of pressure!

The conventional garden pros are there is more room (but it does take up more space) and we used garden fabric to keep the weeds and grass out last year that seemed to work well. The cons are that you need a tractor or tiller to get the dirt ready in the spring and dogs and other critters have free access to the garden. Nickel wandered into the garden as we were planting the broccoli lookin' a good "spot" if you know what I'm talkin' about.

I'll keep you posted on our progress, now I'm going to get back to browsing my seed catalog.

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