Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How Does My Garden Grow?

And that is what I am wondering as it pours rain today and I can't go out and play in the dirt.

A lady at church who is an old hand at gardening and farming said, "Oh, it's too early to plant yet! Memorial Day! Wait for Memorial Day." And she should know, having grown things here for many decades. And I know that's the rule of thumb around here. That was my Dad's rule when I was a kid. We always planted the whole garden on Memorial Day. It was a family tradition. And then we moved to Oregon and two zones the milder, but still, we planted the whole garden on Memorial Day. I move back to Michigan, and the rule still is-- Plant on Memorial Day.

But, young whipper-snapper that I am, I don't agree. Yes, Memorial Day is significant of our last frost date. Yes, I would absolutely NEVER plant basil and tomatoes and peppers and sweet potatoes before Memorial Day (I could, but it would be more work to protect them if needed, and why bother when I can wait until Memorial Day and not have to worry?). But really, do we have to box ourselves in?

We ate fresh radishes yesterday, because I planted them April 8. That day (in my raised beds that Nathan build for me), I also planted peas, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, beets, and a few cabbages, broccoli, and kohlrabi. (As luck would have it, we had a hot spell after that, so those things took a long time to get going. But now that we're back to normal spring weather, they're doing great.)

An Amish neighbor told me that May 5 is the best day to plant potatoes. I raised my eyebrows, but he said that though he doesn't know why, he's seen it proven again and again that there are fewer bug problems if you get them in the ground on May 5. So, we planted our potatoes on May 5.

I much prefer to plant in spurts throughout the spring. I enjoy it so much more than trying to do it all at once and killing myself over it.

Yesterday, a dear friend gave me some rosemary (going in a pot this year since I can't get it to survive a winter), oregano, lavender, feverfew, parsley and black-eyed susans and I relished the planting of all of them (even though Dandelion, our pesky lawnmower, was trying to eat them).

As soon as we get a break in the rain long enough for the ground to dry a little, Nathan is going to till for me. I love it when Nathan tills. It makes my heart go pitter-pat. Combine my big, strong man (okay, not so big. Whatever. But very strong.) with gardening, and I am slain.

Eh-hem. Anyhoo.

He's going to till and then I'm going to plant carrots and onions. (Kinda wish I had done that yesterday, with all this rain they'd get going quick...) Then I'll plant a little of this and that as I have time and as the weather steadily warms up. See, this way it gets done at an enjoyable pace and with a slight head-start.

And here are my transplants who just can't wait to get their feet in the dirt:

Excuse the blur, but there's no sun today, so we're a little low on light.

They're a little spindly, but that's because we haven't been able to get the trick of lighting them. Last year we had fluorescent, this year incandescent (both with some sun from the window, but not enough). They've both done about the same, and I even abandoned the light weeks ago, and they're the same as last year. I'm told that you either have to use a combination of the two, or get expensive grow lights. So next year, Nathan plans to rig up some better light.

But these should still do okay, they'll just take a wee bit longer to get going once I get them in the ground. I have a nice mixture of veggies and flowers. I always like to try new things, and each year it's hit-and-miss. I've had some great successes, though, like that Nicotiana on the left of this photo. They were so fabulous last year! (and they don't care what kind of light they get starting out.)

I will be buying my peppers and sweet potato slips. My sweet potatoes didn't make it all the way through the winter, so I can't start my own. Maybe next year... But I will be saving those, along with tomatoes (and possibly vining crops and corn) for Memorial Day. So I won't completely thumb my nose at the rule...

1 comment:

  1. Daddy's learning to garden outside the box. We got our potatoes and onions in (along with lettuce, peas, etc. already planted) and his comment was "planting the rest of the garden will be a breeze with this already done!" Yea!

    Don't forget to harden off all those beautiful starts. Set them out during the day and back in at night for at least a week. Now is a good time.

    I know, what a pain, but they'll do better.