Garden catalogs, 2020 planning!

Never mind the weather, here come the plant pistils!!! Seriously, though, spring is coming even though the weather right now is Johnny Rotten.  

I’ve ordered a nuc (pronounced nook) of bees!  A nuc is a small deep box with 3-5 frames inside and a queen.  Usually these frames have brood already (baby bees!) and some drawn comb (frames that already have wax). This helps your bees get a nice head start on things!  I’m excited to learn more about beekeeping from the BSE and Gadgetron.  The three of us are getting our bees this year from Bee Line in Mendon.  

Seed starting is definitely on the menu again this year! I enjoyed seed starting last year, and I saved a ton of money over buying plants, so I’m doing it again this year.  I did learn from last year, but I’m still more than likely going to have more than I need.  I plan to ramp back accordingly. J  I made a $55 investment into some good seed starting equipment from Gardener’s Supply this year. I bought 10×20 trays and inserts, and humidity domes.  These are what the greenhouses use., not the cheap and janky stuff like last year, stuff that cracked and spilled stuff all over. I also bought good plant markers and a grease pencil to mark with.  Last year I used a sharpie and that faded by mid-summer.  Dad gave me a heat mat, so I am going to make the front porch into seed starting central pretty soon.  It will be safe from The Marauding Felines and also be warm with the glassed in front porch.  I haven’t given up the dream of an actual greenhouse, but that’s probably going to be a few years.

I walked the front berm the other day when it was uncovered.  I’ve decided I’m not putting in any more blueberries if I lose some to the winter.  I’ll just get new blueberry plants and put them in giant pots out there.  One, the pots will add a nice visual for height and texture; two, I’ll be able to manage the soil acidity better; and three, if they’re in pots, they won’t have to compete with the grasses.  I want to plant other things in that front bed.  I’m thinking of heavily sowing sunflowers for the beauty of it, or putting squash out there to run wild. Sunflowers have an edge because birds really enjoy them.  I’m doing Burpee’s Patio Corn in the big apple box again, probably with a small Three Sisters layout.  Three Sisters is a Native American planting schematic where you plant corn, along with beans to climb up the stalks, and squash to spread out and mulch the ground below.  I’ll do this in the box as I really want to get on top of the front bed this year. It’s gotten a little out of hand and I want to curb that.

I plan to dig up some of my garlic from past years this year and put in new bulbs this fall. I’m doing this because I cheaped out on marking the kinds of garlic I have out there years ago and now I can’t read the markers. My thought is to dig up as much as I can from the prior years that are still coming up and start over with better marking of what kind is where. I used utility flags last year to locate all of the garlic I currently have, so I know where I’ll dig once the scapes are done.

This year is another year for heirloom tomatoes.  I got wise after last year’s one bite revolution and I plan to net the fabric pots to foil the birds and deer who think one bite of tomato is just enough.  If you’re gonna rampage, eat the whole thing, jerks! I liked the fabric pots, and they did very well, but this year I think two plants to a pot. Last year I did four and that was just too many, particular for indeterminate (climbing/sprawling) varieties that pulled the supports over.  I’m excited about some of the new tomato varieties I got for 2020, some that are specifically bred to resist blossom end rot in particular.  I had trouble with that last year, so I’ll be augmenting my soil and using an organic foliar spray to fight that.  I also picked up some that are very early, like 45 days, so I’m hoping to have tomatoes super early because really, who doesn’t like a vine ripened tomato?  I’m also doing hanging baskets of cherry tomatoes. I did them a few years back and liked coming home and picking a pint or so on the way into the house.  They’re the best snacks in the summertime!  I thought about doing tomatoes in bales, since they LOVE being grown in bales. That may not be totally off the table, but that would be tougher to guard against the deer.  That may also wait till next year.

I’m giving up on the strawberries in raised beds.  I’d rather have that real estate for annual vegetable crops, and I think I’m going to start some strawberries in the back corner by the herb beds. Alternately, strawberries get along well with asparagus, so I may move the remaining plants into the raised bed where I have asparagus.  I hope to cut asparagus this year, and I want to start another bed in the back corner of perhaps purple asparagus.  I know it stays green when it cooks but it would be pretty in the herb garden.  I planted several perennial herbs last year and I’m excited to see how they overwintered, and to put in more kinds.  I’m focusing mainly on perennial herbs in the beds, but I plan to put annual herbs in pots out there, again, some really architectural pots to make it cool.  I’m plotting a sitting area out there as well, a place to read among the scents of herbs. I know that’s dreamy and dippy, but you know you want to come over and hang out in there with me.

Spring gardening is coming up in about six weeks.  I’m starting right out with a couple kinds of kale, since I discovered over the winter that I really do like it. There will be the usual cutting lettuces as well, and broccoli, cauliflower, parsnips, and cutting onions.  I’ll use up any carrot or radish seed I have and not buy more.  I don’t know why I always do, because all it does is give the rabbits a thrill and I don’t like them THAT much.  I have some maintenance to do on the raised bed area, starting with stapling heavy hardware cloth over the fence areas where the rabbits get in, and pulling the nettles out of the barrel planter. I’m getting ahead of the danged nettles because I want to put all basil in there again. I did that a couple years ago and loved it! Alternately, I may empty it and reset it, using small gravel in the watering tube rather than sand.  I’m probably going to pend that project till next season, as I want to keep it simple.

Garden catalog season just winds me up.  Are any of you planning any gardens this year?

Author: Amy Crabtree Campbell

figuring it out as I go, since 1967

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