Bedford Ramblings
Steve Mills

Thinking of starting a garden this year?

Posted Wednesday, February 12, 2014, at 6:52 PM
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  • Well, no one is planning a new garden so we'll (I'll) move on to getting the garden ready, if you have not already.

    Some of mine have been ready and waiting for planting since last year. Others are still waiting for me to get the mulch down and two of the tub gardens are waiting for me to do ANYTHING, "just fill me up!"

    I finally chose a place for them this winter and pulled a load of rotted wood chips up next to them to start loading, but I got sidetracked on what to do with some "tire" gardens and by the time I decided on that WINTER had come to stay for a while.

    As you can see for the picture I changed showing my trailer, they are waiting a bit longer. Yesterday melted the snow but there are still solid blocks of frozen chips underneath, so maybe the rain coming in will drip down and loosen it for shoveling.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Feb 14, 2014, at 9:52 AM
  • Sunshine! Yeah, even if it is still chilly!

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Feb 14, 2014, at 9:56 AM
  • I will plant some Chinese cabbage today, outside, but within a cold frame for protection. I used to transplant Bok Choy seedlings but they keep going to seed quickly, so I am trying the direct method as well to see if that stops it.

    My garlic is coming up in the garden. They are starting to grow like my daffodils but the ones in a bathtub garden have been existing through all this cold. It may be time to try again with the Chinese cabbage between the garlic.

    Instead of covering with the native soil, I will set the seeds in small indentations and cover with a very fine seed starting mix. The rains today can water them in.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Feb 14, 2014, at 10:02 AM
  • Ordered a few packets of some seeds that I needed yesterday... starting to get the wheels turning on a lot of projects for the garden.

    Would have been a little further ahead on bed preparations, but all that 10 degree weather and rain/snow has kept me in "wait it out" mode on most of my plans.

    If it's 55-60 degrees for a few days like the weather forecast shows coming up, that's going to be so nice!!!

    -- Posted by mg.mark on Fri, Feb 14, 2014, at 2:19 PM
  • They forecast 50's today. We'll see.

    I prepared some more jugs for planting last night. I intend to start some tomatoes and eggplants and some flowers.

    I know it is early but don't intend to set these out for 6-8 weeks and then with protection already prepared for covering. I've got a greenhouse and the youngest dog is now 2.5 years so I think she will refrain from messing with them.

    The cats were my problem this winter when I brought some catnip in for occasional treats. They pulled the plant out of the pots twice before I placed it in one of the few places they cannot reach, or haven't yet.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Feb 16, 2014, at 2:51 AM
  • I'vebeen thinking more than doing. I do have my seeds gathered and some pots for sowing in place.

    -- Posted by jbillswms on Mon, Feb 17, 2014, at 4:46 PM
  • jbillswms I KNOW what you mean. If anyone looks back and counts the times I have said I was going to plant and then come back and say it again.

    I have yet to get those last seeds in the winter sow jugs. I will do that at lunch. LOL See if I actually do it!

    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Feb 18, 2014, at 10:37 AM
  • What all can be planted now? I have the worst case of "spring fever" I have had in my lifetime!!! HELP :)

    -- Posted by decorate1956 on Tue, Feb 18, 2014, at 10:51 AM
  • With a day like today, following what we have had over the past two months, the fever is HIGH!

    SO I would love to tell you all kinds of things to plant BUT, you and other readers need to assess your garden situation before you jump. OK?

    At best, we probably have two more months before our average last possibility of frost. (8 weeks sounds worse, but one and the same) That means that whatever you plant probably needs to be inside, unless you try winter sowing.

    jbillswms is versed on that and can probably say more than I but that is using the milk jug approach to let Mother Nature help you decide when the seeds sprout and protects them from MOST of what we will see in weather between now and setting out time.

    I say MOST because we have had a real roller coaster year, so...... who knows what is coming before "Real Spring". Google the two words winter sowing and you will get a bunch of information. The Middle Tennessee Plants Swap group also has some very experienced local gardeners doing this. One in Beech Grove and one in Normandy that I know for sure.

    Anyway, unless you have a greenhouse that can accommodate plants growing for 6-8 weeks before they go out, you need to look at flowers and plants that can be put out 2-3 weeks before the last frost and tolerate light frost. They still may need protecting for heavy frosts or even freezes.

    I am not well versed on flowers that can meet those requirements. Can anyone help? IF not, a search of the internet should provide some ideas. We are basically in zone 7, although there are slight variations on that scattered around Middle Tennessee.

    Veggies I would plant now to "stretch the envelope" would be brassicas, greens, onions, garlic and peas, but I also am ready to protect them from hard frosts. (maybe not hard freezes)

    Of course there are a lot of housekeeping things we can do on days like today that get the garden ready. I am hand spading some beds to loosen the soil and then placing mulch and compost. It is too wet to get a tiller (unless it is a hand-tiller) in there and definitely not my tractor, but I am trying to do without either this season so a garden fork is all I really want to use.

    I trimmed my rosemary yesterday and hope it survived the single digit and 0 temps. I'll wait on the figs until I see where the leaves start to bud. They often do better than I think but this year.... all bets are off.

    Again, unless you have a good place to hold plants (greenhouse) I would probably experiment with Winter Sowing to try some seed starting right now. I have some jugs outside and just started a few for germinating inside with tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

    I never let my greenhouse go below 50 degrees so I can get away with this and I want those plants big and strong before they hit the garden, especially the eggplants.

    I am also overwintering some hot peppers that have actually blossomed and are forming peppers. I think all these ladybugs are doing some pollinating for me.

    This really did not answer all that could be said about what seeds to start right now decorate1956. ANYONE is free to jump in here!

    Let me know what you specifically want to plant and I'll be happy to offer some opinons, tips or whatever, but remember, its free and sometimes worth every penny you pay. :-)

    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Feb 18, 2014, at 1:05 PM
  • I was thinking lettuces and greens i.e., broccoli and cauliflower......is it too early for these? I am a novice and want to learn to do it right. I have raised beds that have been "mulched" for one full year .... any help is appreciated. thank you

    -- Posted by decorate1956 on Wed, Feb 19, 2014, at 7:19 AM
  • I would not bet on direct seeding in the garden without protection just yet, however I would consider starting the broccoli and cauliflower inside if I could grow it for about four weeks inside.

    I have never grown much lettuce so does anyone else want to chime in here?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Feb 19, 2014, at 9:18 PM
  • I wanted to answer your comment about being a novice separately. Mother Nature has a way of reminding the most experienced gardener that we do not know everything, so don't be too tough on yourself if things do not always go right.

    I tend to push the envelope when it comes to starting plants and taking chances so add a week or even two to most things I say and you should be OK.

    We have garden club members who get hit by frost when I don't, so get to know your own micro-climate if you want to stretch the season on either end.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Feb 19, 2014, at 9:25 PM
  • Thank you for your vote of confidence. There's no place like being outdoors with a garden, flower or vegetable.

    -- Posted by decorate1956 on Thu, Feb 20, 2014, at 6:25 AM
  • I am in agreement about being outdoors, except for extreme heat & cold but even this past Thursday storms had a certain attraction to me. There were a few times when I backed up and eventually came inside away from any glass, but.....

    A few comments about my "winter sowing". Chinese broccoli and sugar snap peas are the first to emerge in the jugs today. If I have my sketch correct, Mizuna was the winner in the cold frame.

    They're tiny but obviously there.

    Another sign that Spring is almost here is my first tick bite. It was tiny also but the welt was admirable. (if a bite can be admirable)

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Feb 21, 2014, at 9:02 PM
  • Can you believe house flies and mosquitoes are already here? Covered by both Thursday as I moved some rocks to use as a border. Sure wish that cold winter and freeze could have gotten these tough little critters. I know they are supposed to be good for something, but I haven't figured it out :(

    -- Posted by decorate1956 on Sat, Feb 22, 2014, at 7:33 AM
  • It is a stretch to me but maggots (fly larvae) break down and digest organic matter, but as a fly.... I see no real value except food for something else.

    I know bats and and fish eat mosquitoes but we could probably do without them, I think. If anyone knows the importance of either in the balance of nature, it might help us tolerate them. At least the flies, mosquitoes just need to move on.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Feb 22, 2014, at 7:54 AM
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