Planting the Garden

tree-branchWhile we don’t officially have the garden planted yet, we actually have several weeks left before our last official frost date. Usually it’s Memorial weekend you will see everyone in the garden planting like crazy.

This past week we made a major change to our plans. I had planned all winter on several smaller raised beds. Now the plan is to build a 10 x 20′ bed and plant in wide rows about 4′ wide of intensive planting. I’m planning on beets, carrots, and bush beans this way. I think I will be sorry it’s not 8 x 24′. I think I will have a hard time with the 10′ reaching the center without stepping into the bed.

In reading about planting in this method I discovered that beets actually have a low germination rate and that they actually will sprout several in one spot since they really are a fruit with 4 seeds.

The suggestion to increase germination rate and control where they grow is to soak the seeds in warm water for about 12 hours, then let the seeds sit in a warm closed container until they sprout. These will need to be quickly planted as they will soon send out their long root and not transplant well. The suggested spacing for this is 4″ in all directions for medium sized beets.

We are not all that fond of greens around here so I suppose the ones we do get will be plenty for us and the chickens. This should save on waisted space and seed compaired to row planting then thinning to desired spacing. I also don’t like huge beets or carrots, they are woody to me. I like them medium size as they can better in my experience and are nice looking on the dinner plate. I’m the only one around here who will eat beets.

For the carrotts, I am going to plant them 2″ apart. And the bush beans 6″ apart.

The Farmers Almanac tells me May 19, 20 & 23rd are good days to plant root crops so will be June 15 & 16th for fall harvesting.

If you have ever spent any time trying to get all those little seeds put into all those little holes in just the right place you will know the frustration and worry. Over at Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op , Kate from Living The Frugal Life  posted  wonderful information about spacing made easy. The idea is so simple it makes you smack yourself on the forehead and say why didn’t I think of that. I’m serious, it’s brilliant yet so easy. Go on go take a look!, but don’t be to hard on yourself. Be very very happy this lovely woman is willing to share her knowledge with us.

Here are a couple of links with information on Intensive Gardening

Virginia Coop Extension (This is a PDF) 

(this is a PDF)

All of these pretty much have the same information but each also has bits of info the others don’t so they go together well.

All information I can find these days advises to “double dig” the area where the raised bed is going to go. This basically is digging the dirt and turning it over. I have never done this. The way I do it is to cut the grass where you want the raised bed as short as possible, and leave the grass right there. Build the bed with what ever edging material you plan on using. Next  lay down a nice thick layer of newspaper overlapping them a bit. Don’t even bother to open it, 20 sheets would be about what I will use. Next add a nice thick layer of composted manure the top it off with nice compost.

This year I mixed the compost and manure together and also added a bit of fine sand, but not to much. I did this because also there is a small amount of top soil (loam?) mixed in there too, we needed to use up. Our loam is so thick and heavy it tends to compact quite well, a bit to well.

Next will be laying out the planting areas, this is where your drawing of the bed will be needed. (You are like me right, and spent all winter drawing, erasing and redrawing every other day because you changed your mind?)

Plant your seeds according to the package directions a bit of gentle water and you should be all set.


Posted on May 6, 2009, in Gardening and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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