More Adventures In Gardening

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I’ve always maintained that whenever the government restricts something, it merely indicates the increased need for the average citizen to purchase the restricted item. This goes for firearms, encryption, and now seeds. State governments have decided that seeds and agricultural items are “non-essential”, which was the primary driver for me to complete the garden planting as soon as possible.

I named my garden plots 1-4, pending some random decision, sign, statue, or picture which allows me to give them a better name. Back in my early systems administration days, we would normally give incomprehensible host names an easily recognized name, such as the weapons from Halo (the original, not this newfangled stuff kids are playing today).

Clearly when you drop seeds in the ground, there’s nothing to show for a few weeks. So, here’s what you have on tap to emerge in 14-30 days:

  • One 8’x12’ plot of beets.
  • One 8’x12’ plot of carrots, plus randomly sprinkled seeds throughout my above ground vine planter. Orange, white, black, and purple thanks to a generous donor.
  • Randomly sprinkled rows of carrots in the vine planter.

However, some plants sprout better from seedlings. There’s two ways of going about this, buy a seedling from a nursery or grow your own. I got started late this year and opted for more of the former. Plants like tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers produce the best yield when you start them inside as a seedling and transplant. Other plants like carrots, beets, or corn do not transplant well and need to be sown directly into the ground.

Planter #3 is now the home of spinach and an 8’x8’ section of leeks. A little cost saving note on the leeks. They are sold as seedlings in a grassy-looking bundle. With a little bit of finesse, these bundles can be separated and spread through a much larger area. This plot of leeks was 3 seedling pots for a grand total of $10. If last year is any indication, this will turn into 40+ pounds, perfect for that batch of potato leek soup, salad, or stir-fry. The spinach is a hail mary, as for 2 years in a row it has failed as miserably as Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The squash, watermelon, and eggplant will be here once I am 100% certain there is no more risk of frost. As the leeks grow tall and the vines spread, neither plant will inhibit the other’s growth rate.

Planter #2 has the start of a kale field. While it has a different texture than lettuce, I use it as a substitute. The best part, kale does not get bitter when the temperature warms up. As long as you keep the caterpillars off the leaves, they will grow through the summer heat and even in to the winter. My kale plants from last year survived the winter and are re-growing now. The middle has been reserved for okra. While not a common vegetable for people to plant, I highly recommend it. Okra plants at full size are about 5 feet tall. The edible part is a seed pod that forms from the flowers. While at full size, you will get at least one seed pod every day. They also produce best during peak summer, making them a great bridge crop over the summer months.

In the back, I took a chance and purchased broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower seedlings. Since they are on the north side of the planter, the okra should provide some shade and maximize their growing season. An adjacent planter will have corn, so they will receive enough direct sun to grow but not enough to overheat. At least, that’s the hope.

Planter #1 is the mixed bag planter. I always like to reserve some space for whatever weird or funky plant I come across. One year it was a stevia plant (useless, don’t waste your time), another year was citronella. In the front are two transplanted dill from a friend in the north. While my disdain for pickles has not, nor will it ever change, the maybe-sort-of-pending apocalypse has changed my mind. Dill is most useful as a garden plant as it reseeds itself and will continue coming back year after year. Pick a spot, put it in the ground, and harvest as desired. On the left are two basil plants for the inevitable garden pesto. Behind all four is my random plant play space. Further back are the tomato seedlings I purchased from the nursery. Tomatoes are great to get started with your backyard garden. Give them water, a trellis to grow on, and you’ll be pleasantly satisfied with the enhanced flavor and quality. You may be thinking the spacing is too large….but trust me. A properly watered tomato plant with enough sun will grow into a massive bush. That whole section will be overgrown by July.

To read more articles about gardening written by Eric Beasley please check out his previously written 2 articles.

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