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It’s Time to Plant the Garden
On Your Mark, Get Set, Plant
It’s Time to Plant the Garden
Mother's Day has passed and with it the "rule of thumb," frost free date for our Southeast Indiana garden. With a full hot bed on February 12, I spent three days setting out somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 - 800 seedlings. These ranged from vegetables to flower and herbs.
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The Vegetable Garden
The vegetable garden was first. The seedlings here ran the gamut from carrots, tomatoes, beets, green beans and sweet corn. I plant very few seeds directly in the garden, instead preferring to plant them in bedding packs inside the hot bed. This gives me a head start on the season, as the plants are up and growing when I set them in the garden. It also eliminates "waste spots," in places where seeds do not germinate, leaving an empty spot where something could be growing.
I begin planting carrots in early March in bedding packs. Usually, I have to thin the seedlings, as sometimes I accidentally drop more than one seed in a cell. I plant them in 1206 bedding packs. The 1206 designation merely means that there are 12 bedding packs in a ten inch by twenty inch flat. This means that there are 72 plants in each flat. I usually plant two packs with seeds, giving my twelve potential plants. When the seedlings are about three inches tall it is time to plant them in the garden. I plant carrots every two weeks to ensure a continuous supply for salads, cabbage slaw and grilling.
I use the same schedule for beets that I use for carrots. This year I am planting many more beets, as last year we purchased a dehydrator and I want to dehydrate shredded beets for use in salads.
I start the first lettuce seeds in mid-February and set the seedlings in the greenhouse in early March. We have had two pickings of lettuce so far this year. I plant lettuce about every two weeks, stopping in late May as the later plantings usually just bolt to flower in the summer heat. I begin planting lettuce once again in mid-August, planting until mid-September, or so. Small lettuce seedlings will survive the winter in the garden if sheltered.
I start planting green beans in mid-April in cell packs. Usually, I have to pot up the first crop into three-inch pots to keep them growing for setting out in mid-May. The plants are about six inches tall by then and growing fast.
I usually begin starting members of the brassica family in mid-February. Brassica family plants include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi. Cabbage is tolerant of light frosts and can be planted here in mid-February. I usually cover it with row cover to provide some protection and to keep it growing. The brassica in the greenhouse was planted in early March and is approaching harvest. We have already harvested a head of Chinese Cabbage.
I start tomatoes in mid-March for planting in mid-May. I have about four varieties, Celebrity, Bobcat, Invincible and Juliette.
I usually don't grow sweet corn, as the raccoons usually tear into the ears, devouring everything in sight. I have some ideas as to how to keep the varmints out of it this year. We will see together if any of the ideas work or not.
Thus far, the vegetable garden looks pretty good and is in track to increase the supply of fresh vegetables for our dinner table as the season progresses. Thus far we have had mescaline mix, lettuce, radish, spinach, asparagus, snow peas and Chinese cabbage land on our table.