Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Planting the Summer Garden-Love the Glove!

Small Pink Magic
Gardening is not for sissies.  You get dirty.  Things are crammed under your fingernails.  You have to deal with bugs and hidden treasures buried in the soil that sometimes you wished you had never unearthed.  The best solution.  Wear your gloves.  I have the hands of an 80 year old woman and thus was never able to fulfill any hand modeling gigs.  Especially when my grubby fingers always have scraped knuckles and huge scratches.  Oh the HUMANITY!  The plus side of being a non-sissy gardener is that garden lingo is littered with so many profane and filthy, filthy things to say and gesture.  Don't get me started, I had a list of 40 that WSU Horticulture Club prohibited me from printing on t-shirts.  

Spring rolls around here in the Northwest and sometimes blesses us with two weeks in May that makes us see pixy dust and rainbows with those two magical weeks of AMAZING weather that is hot and dry.  This year rolled around and our May was glorious.  The difficult thing about Portland and the surrounding areas is that we have so many sub-climates that there is no one particular rule of thumb.  Personally I usually plant items that are zone 5 even though we are suppose to be a zone 7.  That way I have a little breathing room if our days fluctuate from mid 40s and then bounce up to 70s the following week.  Bounce with me, bounce with me...a little Jay Z!

I am not a fantastic gardener.  I don't have any super secrets for success.  I kill seedlings all the time, planted too deep or too shallow.  I am also notorious for planting seeds way too close.  What I AM is an adventurous and an avid gardener always playing with new varieties, techniques and the many failures!

2013 Garden Seeds
There are only two garden items that I always abide by.  

1) Do not plant the same item in the same place in two successive years.  This just begs for diseased plants and depleted nutrients needed for optimal growth.  The chances sharply increase the possibility of passing diseases harbored in the soil from the previous year's plant.  It also doesn't allow the soil to be properly replenished with the needed nutrients if you don't rotate your crops.  

2) Always plant marigolds in the garden beds.  They stink but I love 'em!  The bright colors attract pollinators, detract aphids, deter nematodes and other unwanted bugs and give the slugs something else to eat besides your veggies.   If I have the room I also love to plant zinnias.  My mom passed this habit down to me.  A diverse veggie garden including flowers look so pretty.

Super Hero Tool Kit
Gardening and agriculture are for the perpetual optimists.  We plant and play in the garden because we deeply believe in the future and whatever it holds.  My Great Grandpa Carl gave me my first garden rake and hoe when I was in middle school.  Such simple tools that were able to flip a switch inside of me to have a purpose, provide my calm and teach me self reliance.  My tool kit continues to grow but honestly all you need is a small hand rake, trowel and pruners.  All of the other tools just make the jobs easier.

Squirrel Planted Potatoes
Squirrel Aided Planting  
2013 gardening season caught me scattered and sidetracked.  The end of April came around before I looked at my raised beds.  This year the squirrels were really busy during the time that the bird netting was off.  Those little rascals planted 6 potatoes and 9 walnuts!

Heirloom Tomato Re-Seeds
At the end of last year there were a bunch of heirloom tomatoes that rotted and overwintered on the top of the soil.  Much to my surprise they sprouted up this spring with a gazillion starts. I take it personal when those little jerk faces pop up without any love yet all of the tomato seeds I plant, water and heat in the safety of the pantry refuse to sprout.  As much as I hate their mockery I left the majority to see what happens.

Like every other year the usual goes in the ground but the varieties always change.  We have snow peas, sugar peas, bush beans, pole beans, arugula, lettuce, radishes, carrots, kale, pumpkins, cucumbers, zucchini.  

Fall 2012 Garlic, Scallions and Onions
 In the winter I plant the onions and garlic and then harvest in the early summer. 

Row Ready To Be Planted

When I was younger I would take out my coloring pencils and crayons to spend an afternoon drawing out my garden map for the year.  The most fun was always making different shapes out of the lettuce.  Sometimes a star, circle or wavy line of lettuce.  Today's present planting guide is remember enough to not plant something in the same place as it was last year.  So when things start sprouting 2-3 weeks later it is like a giant surprise party for someone like me with a goldfish memory.  

Now go out there, grab some seeds or plant starts and do a tiny bit of reading for basic plant tips.  You don't have a black thumb.  Trust me.  Plants die for all sorts of reasons but the main killer is neglect.  Admit it, you honestly could have spent the 5 minutes watering your plants instead of reading up on Kim Kardashian's baby drama with Kayne.  They're not real people anyways.

Oh yeah, homegrown vegetables don't taste like store bought vegetables for all those newbie gardeners.    They have tons of flavor that can sometimes border on pungent.  You laugh but you would be surprised at how many new gardeners don't want to use the veggies they grow because they taste "funny".  HA!  You crazy city kids are wacky.  Get down with your dirty self.  Square Foot Gardener and Square Foot Gardener cookbook are the best for new gardeners wanting to cook with their grown veggies.

Fresh Love-Jessie


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