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The seeds have been started. The compost is in place. The chickens have cleaned up what was left of the fall garden, and now it’s spring planning time! What to plant and where is one my favorite things to do this time of year. And since the hubs extended my garden, I have even more room! Woop woop!
This means I’ll be able to include some new things this year, including peanuts, sweet potatoes, white acre peas, and potato towers. (It’s Take 2 on potato towers after last year’s ant invasion.) What we can’t direct sow in a few weeks, we started two weeks ago in flats. They’re hanging out in our cold frame and growing bigger by the day. It’s so amazing to see nothing one day and a plant the next!
The general rule in our area is not to plant in the garden until after Easter. Sneaky frosts will come up quickly and ruin tender young plants. There were some 80 degree days in February this year, and it was so tempting to get planting in the garden, but several weeks later the temps dropped down to 25 degrees at night. Unfortunately, these temps nipped the new leaves on my fig tree and some early blooms on blueberry bushes. (Even covering them at night didn’t keep the cold at bay.) So, I’m going to wait two more weeks for Easter just to be on the safe side.
Here’s what our raised beds will be growing this year:
Bed One: Corn and Acre Peas
We’ve grown corn each year, usually next to the garden gate, and they tend to get in the way. So when the hubs added a long end cap bed to our garden, I knew corn would be out of the way here. The white acre peas are low and grown under the shade of the corn stalks. I love growing multiple things in the same space!
Bed Two: Squash, Tomatoes, Sweet Potatoes
All new for 2017 will be a try at sweet potatoes. I won’t start them until summer, so I may put something quick and easy in their spots until it’s time to plant. I am using a local sweet potato and growing my own slips. I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out. Tomatoes and summer squash are a staple here. And after two years of vine borers destroying my squash, I have a battleplan… ace bandages. I’ll be sharing that in a few weeks. As for the tomatoes, I’m growing Better Boys in this raised bed and Jellybean tomatoes (saved from last year’s crop) in the Earthbox.
Bed Three: Zucchini, Peppers, Okra
I’ll be using the same battleplan for my zucchini to keep the vine borers at bay. Vine borers can live in the garden and pop up again each year, so I’m moving my squash and zucchini from where I’ve planted in the past. Bell peppers fit nicely under the tall, leggy okra plants, and the garden fence will provide some support once the okra plants reach 6 or 7 feet.
Bed Four: Beans, spinach, and herbs
Bean teepees are such a fun vertical element to any garden! And you save tons of space by growing beans up instead of out. (Vertical gardening also works well for cucumbers.) Once the beans have started growing, I’ll plant spinach underneath the teepees. This provides a nice cool spot for the spinach to grow. Many of my perennial herbs will grow here as well. I like having them close to the gate so I can pop in, get what I need, and hurry back to the kitchen.
Bed Five: Root veggies, eggplant, zinnias
My underground growers are all lumped here together. Fast growing radishes help keep the bugs away from some of the slower growing veggies in the garden. And since I’m the only one who eats radishes, it’s no big deal for me to share. The green onions will be directly sown in as well as the carrots. So they will take a while to grow to a useable size. My favorite zinnias will give this bed pops of color which I can cut and bring in the house.
Bed Six: Peanuts
As I type, this raised bed, which is outside the garden fence, is covered by our coldframe. While my original plan was to use it for strawberries, I simply can’t grow enough strawberries to make them worth my while, so I’ll be moving them to a flower bed (and hope for the best). When I saw peanuts in the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange’s catalog, I knew I wanted to try them. My Granny and Granddaddy always grew peanuts, and there’s nothing better than a big pot of boiled peanuts. So, I’m going to give it a go this year!
Containers: Sage, Parsley, Potatoes, Basil
Around the garden and patio, I’ll have containers with various herbs. I’ll also be planting potatoes in burlap sacks around the garden. Our local brewery freely gives out the sacks to anyone who can put them to good use. So as I mentioned before, I’ll try potatoes again this year and see if I can keep the ants away.
Flower Beds: Cantaloupe, blueberries, figs, watermelon, cucumbers
Since we have a smaller garden area, I put larger vine growers in flower beds. For the past three years, cantaloupe has done amazingly well in a bed on the north side of our house. There’s plenty of sun and space for the vines to stretch out. This is also where our blueberry bushes and fig tree are, so they happily share their space with the low laying melons. We also put our cucumbers in flowers beds against the house. This gives us a perfect place to prop up a trellis and let the cucumbers grow up. They grow abundantly each year.
And that is “all” we’ll be growing this year! It seems like a lot when I put it all down on paper. But square-foot gardening really cuts down on weeding, and the little gardeners help with the harvesting.
I’ll keep you updated at the season progresses. I’d love to know what you’re planning to grow in your garden this year! I’m always on the lookout for new things to add to our garden space. Have a great week and happy gardening!