With the last frost date less than two weeks away, it’s time for me to really start thinking about my garden. It’s sat, rather sadly neglected, since last June, so I have some work ahead of me to get the ground ready for transplants. (I use transplants since our growing season is rather short, and I like to get a head start on things like tomatoes that will suffer in the heat.)
I suspect, with as mild as our winter has been, that I could probably get my first plants in the ground as early as this weekend, but I still prefer to wait until that official frost date. Maybe it’s a bit superstitious, but I don’t want to freeze my tomatoes.
My garden is about 10×12, raised bed and mostly organic. I compost all my kitchen scraps and yard waste in two bins on the side of the house, but I’m not sure either is ready to go into the garden just yet. I’ll have to check them and see. They’re both pretty full at least, so once things warm up I’ll have lots of compost to spread around the plants.
The whole garden needs to be cleared of weeds and grass and turned over to be ready for this year’s plants. Since we don’t own a rototiller/cultivator, I have to till the earth by hand. It’s always kind of cleansing (as well as somewhat back-breaking) to grab a shovel and turn over all of the earth there.
I’m probably mostly going to put in green beans and tomatoes – for some reason I have a great deal of trouble with curcurbits (cucumbers, zucchini, squash) getting downy/powdery mildew and dying on me (or getting big but not producing any fruit). I’d like to try melons this summer as well, but beans and tomatoes are my staples. They grow well for me, and last year I ended up at one point with over 15 lbs of tomatoes – out of which I made a delicious vinaigrey, peppery salsa. This year I’d like enough to make some marinara sauce to freeze in quarts. I’d also like enough green beans to make another few batches of “dilly beans” – spicy dill pickle green beans that I eat by the jar if I’m not careful.
I’ll also grow hot peppers, but I put those in pots. Hot peppers of various kinds tend to like to have periods of dry, and tomatoes need at least an inch of water a week, so if I water the tomatoes enough to be fruitful, the peppers don’t do much. They do well in pots for me though – I’d like to grow a nice assortment, from jalapenos and hot banana peppers to some larger Anaheim peppers that I can stuff with sausage and roast. Yum!
At some point I need to figure out what’s causing my problem with curcurbits (I suspect it’s a fungus problem with the soil), but with as much time as I spend at work, I don’t really have time to troubleshoot a lot of garden problems. I wish I had more time to devote to it, since I get a lot of satisfaction out of growing things, but work has to take priority over hobbies, even useful ones like growing food.