I’m not a gardener. Well at least I don’t think of myself as one but anyone I’ve come across who does not do anything garden related tends to see me as one because once the snow starts to melt I start attempting to grow things. Once I learned a few facts (i.e. fussy high maintenance plants + me = no way!) it was easy to turn my brown thumb into a olive green one but I still consider the whole endeavor to be highly experimental. Which is why it hard for me to consider myself to as a gardener because the label brings up visions of someone who knows what they are doing and it seems like more often I’m just going with the flow.
This year part of my plan was along the lines of “buy some plants at a local nursery and be done with it” because with our last frost date being just a little over a month before baby girl will be born I thought the last thing I’d want to do is the magical plant dance I did last year throughout the spring. Now with March rolling by I’m starting to feel a bit lonesome without the start of my seedlings proudly camped out in the entry way.
During previous years I had to drag my little beasties outdoors before the last frost date because while I do have a south facing window it just does not quite cut the mustard for the weeks required to get the seedlings going. So I moved the brood outside and protected them from frosts with whatever I could find. Old containers with missing lids and empty plastic bottles (cut in half) acted has little mini green houses. Once the plants got too big for their new homes I removed the domes and would go out drape sheets an hour or so before sunset (in hopes of retaining heat). Then I was sure to remove the protective covers during the early morning hours. I’ll pat myself on the back for dutifully doing my best to protect my young plants but I also have to give credit to the Gardener’s Local Forecast at the website for The Weather Channel. Not only did it help me know what nights had the risk of frost but throughout the growing season the rain forecast and “watering need” helped me have a clear idea on when I should hold back with the watering or do some extra checking on the the moisture of the soil.
Knowing the fun I had previous years starting from seed I broke down this week ordered some new seeds in order to supplement my stash, drafted a planting schedule and will be trying a few new things in order to make things a bit easier on my pregnant self. One change to my routine will be using artificial light to supplement natural.
I use a spreadsheet program to make simple schedule so I have an idea each week on what should be on my garden “to do” list. Johnny’s Selected Seeds has a handy calculator to help you figure out the basic dates for planting popular types of vegetables and some flowers. Ideal times can vary depending on specific varieties so I’ll also make adjustments to my spreadsheet based on seed packet information.
This year the last frost date for my area falls on a Saturday which made things easy. Usually I’ll make my dates on whatever weekend is the closest to the time frame since that is when I’ll be most likely to be able to devote time to gardening. Working with a small yard with an even smaller area that gets ideal lighting conditions I don’t have room for massive crops but I’ll be expanding a bit this year by adding more containers for extra growing space. I’ll be planting a few of my favorites that I’ve had luck with (cucumbers and tomatoes), trying a few new things (corn, melons, flowers) and will try yet again to see if I can get pumpkins to grow in one of the more “wild” parts of the yard.