Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Time to think about gardening

Last year I was asked by several people to let them know when and what I was planting. It would also be good for me to start keeping better notes of what it is that I’m planting, so here’s a start.

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(Transplanting some grasses. Love my hat? This white girl needs some sun protection.)

Last frost in Albuquerque is generally April 17. This means that there are a lot of things you can start planting in the next few weeks! Yay!!! So start thinking about your spring crops. It’s also a good time to get your plants started that you’ll be transplanting out later on in the year. I’ve tried growing my own seeds to set out, but I’ve had very little success. Our only windows in our house are north facing (except the one in my closet) and those plants don’t get nearly enough sun, even when I have a grow light rigged. And can I tell you how many times I’ve picked up plants off the floor and tried to rescue tender little seedlings after a rowdy game of who-knows-what? So no transplants for me, at least not in this house. I’ll just buy them at the store for now, even though it costs a million times as much as buying a packet of seeds. But now’s the time to think about them and get them going if you are going to be doing that.

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(Carrots from our fall harvest)

Some spring crops to think about:

Broccoli—although I did not have any success with this the one year I tried. It grew huge and took over but never got any broccoli from it.

Cabbage—never tried this, since I figured it’s dirt cheap in the store. But could be fun if you have extra space.

Parsley—transplants can grow in the ground 5 weeks before last frost. I found it tricky to start from seed, so I just bought mine. Definitely worth planting a few of these, since you can harvest throughout the growing season and into early winter. I definitely prefer Italian (or flat-leaf) parsley over the curly variety for cooking. It has a much better flavor.

Peas—classic spring vegetable. Can direct sow 5 weeks before last frost.

Spinach—I love growing spinach. I’ve needed to protect it from birds when the sprouts are little, but it’s super easy to grow and tastes delicious.

Cauliflower—same story as with broccoli. Anyone know what I did wrong? Or is it just tough to grow in ABQ?

Lettuce—Another favorite. I prefer looseleaf lettuces to those that form a head since they seem a lot less finicky and you can harvest continually. Cos (romaine) lettuces and buttercrunch are especially great. I’m trying arugula this year as well so that I can make some arugula pesto.

Onions—I’ve never tried full-sized onions, but my green onions failed. This was probably my fault. I think it’d be really fun to grow some onions in a half-barrel. And I could do that in the front yard since rabbits don’t like onions.

Beets—I’m going to try these this year. I’ve heard that beet greens are fantastic in salad.

Carrots—I’ve tried a few times and finally had success last fall. They were delicious and didn’t take up much space, so I think it’s worth the effort.

Radishes—tried one year and they were nasty and woody, but I think it was the variety I tried. I’m giving these another shot.

Swiss chard—never tried this, but it’s so pretty that I thought I’d give it a go. I’ve heard it’s pretty fail-proof. We’ll see.

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(Pie made from the raspberries in our garden)

I’m putting my seed order in right now, and here are the varieties that I’ve selected:

Carrots: Nantes (seeds from last year), Cosmic Purple, Atomic Red, St Valery

Lettuce: Buttercrunch, Freckles, and a few variety packets I have from last year

Radishes: French Breakfast, Easter Egg

Beets: Early Wonder, Golden Beet

Swiss Chard: Bright Lights

Arugula: the variety isn’t named, but it’s supposed to mature in 38 days. Sounds good to me!

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(Our square foot garden in early spring 2009. We’ve got wood dividers now, so it looks a little better than that.)

I’ll also go through my seeds and plant whatever peas and spinach I have on hand. And you can bet that I’ll be putting in several parsley plants.

I’m so excited to get a start on my garden this year!! What are you planting?

2 comments:

Marne said...

Do you put anything special in your soil?

Scott and Cindy said...

Hey! I'm SO excited to do my garden, too....we're about a month behind you on the frost, though. It's May 17th here! We're planning to plant raspberries, asparagus, lettuce, onions, carrots, tomatoes and bell peppers. Yay! As for your broccoli and cauliflower problems, I read that if you put too much fertilizer into the soil, you'll grow huge beautiful plants that won't produce any fruit/veg! Not sure if that helps, but that was my first thought when I read your post. I love the site www.beginner-gardening.com if you want to check out more tips on your plants. I'm going to follow his advice this year and see how it goes :). Can't wait to see your harvest!