What’s Growing On Here?!

Getting closer and closer to real spring! So excited! I took the past couple days off for mental health and planned to be in the garden. It didn’t happen the way I wanted, but that’s okay. I did get all of the straw left over from last year spread out. Here’s what it looks like right now, with the new areas covered. By the end of the season I hope to have the whole thing covered, though not likely planted. The “next season” areas will be cardboard and straw, most likely. When you have a whole winter to wait, that breaks down very quickly.

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I thought about a spot in the middle for the fire ring, because any friend of mine knows how I like to set stuff on fire. However, all of my rather extravagant hosta collection is coming out of the back yard and being planted under the walnut. The back yard will all be going back to grass and seating, so the Fire Breathing Devil Chickens will likely be uncooped on the back lawn, in private.

All of my seeds are here! There will be a separate post on the herbs only, because I’ll be going buck wild on herbs this year. I also have about another three weeks till my plants come in, and that will be yet another post, delineating the plans I have for them. This weekend, weather permitting, will be a planting day for SEED TAPES! Seed tape is pretty awesome stuff. I cannot bear to thin plants because it feels wasteful to me. My right mind knows that if I don’t thin the seedlings, then they’re going to be overcrowded and none of them will do well. My irrational mind thinks they’ll magically make room for each other. Yeah, they don’t. Here’s what seed tapes look like:

There’s 15 feet of seed tape here, in three rows of 5 feet. You simply dig a small trench, lay the tape in there, and put a little dirt (about a quarter inch) over it and then water well till seedlings come up. The tape makes it so that they’re already spaced in a manner that makes thinning much less onerous. The package will say that there is no need to thin. That isn’t always the case, but it surely helps a lot.

Because I’m actually about six years old, and I know you’re all not nearly as Grown Up and Mature as you want to pretend, I’m going to share this: you can make linear designs of the tapes. You can also spell things with the different tapes, which can be very pretty. One year I got creative and spelled a vulgar word I like a lot in lettuce. It was amusing to have thuggish greens in my salad bowl.

I have several tapes this year. For root veggies, I have the above mentioned Rivoli radishes, which will produce full sized radishes in just 30 days. Radishes are the best instant gratification after a long winter. They come up so quickly. One of my bff’s loves them, so I enjoy bringing her a bunch to work. Radishes are delicious roasted as well, in case you never considered them a roasting veggie. They get sweeter in the oven. There will also be Purple Top White Globe turnips too. I love roasted turnips, and I also enjoy them mashed. Bringing up the rear of the roots is the mighty Detroit Supreme beet! I’m going to try my hand at pickling baby beets this year. The greens on all three are quite tasty.

There will be greens galore in my collection of seed tapes, though! Space Hybrid spinach is one of my favorites. You can pick it small for baby spinach or wait till it’s bigger to tear up for smoothies or to throw into a curry or a nice salad. This year I’m trying a new romaine lettuce, Parris Island. Homemade Caesar salads with garlic from my front yard, yo! Salad Bowl lettuce is a nice mix of loose leaf lettuces that’s delicious. You’ll wonder why you buy bagged salad when you taste fresh lettuce from your garden. What’s great about greens, is that if you’re careful when you cut/pick them, they keep on growing. For some reason, the garden catalog phrase “cut and come again” entertains me mightily. And seriously, growing lettuce and spinach is probably the easiest thing ever – you put it in the ground and water it, and you’ll get lettuce and spinach. It is that simple.

Finally, there will be bunching onions, Guardsman type. They’ll be ready to pick in about 45-50 days. The bunching onions are a biennial. If I don’t pick all of them, well, I’ll get some more in a year. There’s a lot to be said for not picking all of a crop. I’ve been digging MOST of my garlic, but I always leave some for next year.

FYI, I’ll be doing succession planting. This means every couple weeks I’ll go out and lay down a little more tape, for an ongoing succession of fresh vegetables. Since it’s just me, I don’t need ALL THE THINGS to come ripe at once. I like beets, but not every day for a month, you know? This is a good way to plant if you’re a single person, or have a limited time to process/cook things as they ripen.

The seeds above are all cool season crops. I can put them in now and if it freezes or snows some more, so what? They’ll be fine. I’ll plant a second crop in September for a fall harvest as well. While taking the mulch off a bed, I found two turnips from last fall that overwintered under the straw. You can leave your fall sowing of some root vegetables in the ground, mulch them with straw, and be able to dig them all winter. This works best in raised beds, but I’ve done this with turnips and rutabagas in particular.

Speaking of freakish Michigan weather, my floating row cover came in today! This is another 2018 upgrade for me. Usually, when frost is predicted, I run out with sheets and blankets and throw them over the hoops in the raised beds. Then I have to go out and bring in the laundry and then wash them. Because I need more housework, right? Row cover is pretty great, though, and what I wish I’d had all along, but I’ve been a cheapo gardener.

Thanks to Amazon Prime, I got that two day delivery. I have two weights, 1.5 oz and .9 oz. If it’s going to be a seriously hard freeze, the heavier 1.5 will go on the hoops. That will protect the plants to temps well below freezing, and it allows about 50% of the sunlight to get through. The .9 oz also provides protection, but only down to around 29. It allows about 70% of light through.

I’m going to be picking up .55 oz as well, and that will allow 85% of light to get through. These are also air permeable and will allow some water. The .55 will be to light enough to discourage jerkrabbits (no typo, I do not mean jackrabbits, I believe in calling things what they are) and other critters and/or bugs from decimating my crops. It’s not just cops who come and try to take my crops. I’ll throw it over the PVC hoops in my raised beds (see this post for photos) and I’ll use my endless collection of blow-down sticks to weight them down. I’m certainly not buying expensive little clips or staples when I have more sticks than I can, well, shake a stick at.

So, that’s seed tapes, overwintering root veggies in the garden, floating row covers, and proof that I’m a terribly childish and vulgar gardener. I’ll likely post about the herbs before the plants come in, because I’m doing so many new ones this year and I’d like to see what others have done. I’m also thinking to try for a Special Guest Post from one of my favorite herbologists. At the very least, I hope I can persuade her to rile up the comments section with her massive knowledge on the subject.

Author: Amy Crabtree Campbell

figuring it out as I go, since 1967

11 thoughts

  1. I really want to know what your lettuce spelled? I love that not all plants have to be annuals. I once had some kale that survived about three years in a row. Thanks for all the information!

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    1. I’ve got lettuce that still comes up year after year. Left to their own devices I think lots of thirdt will come back. Dill is another one that will come back!

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    1. Right?? Seriously, seed tape is the way. So many things are now in tape form, it used to be just carrots and beets and radishes, but I’m seeing it more and more. Jung’s has a lot of different things. It works really well for the tiny seeded plants. Less waste and less heartbreak. 🙂

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  2. Thank you for enlightening us in seed tape! Now to search it out and order! I’m the same same way I think space will magically appear!
    Love these posts! Can’t wait to dig in the dirt! Mine is still too soggy, even in boxes. Bring on spring!

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    1. I’m going to plant the cold season tapes in the boxes and then put the row covers on. That ought to warm up the soil and dry it a bit as well. That’s my hope, at least. It might just make everything rot and then my impatience will be justly punished!

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  3. I love the seed tape idea ! Excited to read more as to did you refrain from thinning or did it save you from doing this ! Love your stories !

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    1. I’ll update, but I’ve found that I still have to thin a little. However, I don’t feel as much a monster who wholesale rips tiny living things out of the ground.😆

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