A look at last summer, part I

Every year I say I’m going to do a better job planning my garden. The good intentions are there and I start out that way. I look at the seed catalogs and think about what I’d like to plant. I go to the local garden store and pick up the seed packets I think I want. I check out nurseries for tomato plants. I make a mental list of want to plant where, keeping in mind that I read somewhere it’s best to plant certain types of vegetables near each other or that you should rotate where you plant those tomatoes each year. I think about when I’m going to pull the tiller out and get it ready to turn the soil and rid the garden of weeds and grass left behind the previous summer/fall.

But it always seems to stop there. Then it starts turning warmer and I scramble to get more organized. Getting the tiller “ready” turns into pulling it out of the garden shack the day I want to plant, keeping my fingers crossed that it will start. Planning the layout becomes laying the seed packets or tomato plants on the soil where I think they should go, all the while thinking “I’ve got to get going if I want to get this garden in today.” That’s been my goal — to get the entire garden planted in one day – all the tilling, all the planting. Everything. I start early in the morning and work until it’s done. Why? Partly because I’m tight on time (or so I think), partly because I want everything to start growing NOW.

This year, though, I’m going to try a more thoughtful approach. I’ve saved many of my empty seed packets and those plastic information things they put in tomato cartons saying what kind it is, how long to maturity, etc. The goal is figure out what worked and what didn’t. The first thing to remember for next year? Write down the observations earlier – during the growing season if possible, but certainly not later than the fall – when the memories are clearer. Fortunately, I took a lot of photos of the garden in various growing stages last year, and that helps jog my memory a bit.


Here a few of the veggies that worked for me:

Peas. Dark Seeded Early Perfection (Burpee). I planted two rows that first day (May 7), as well as one or two more rows a week or so later. The first two rows were fantastic and we had more than several meals of peas in the pod. The later rows of peas kind of got lost in the garden shuffle. Maybe it was because I planted them away from the other rows of peas and I just didn’t pay attention to them as much as I should did the others.

Beans. Green, stringless, bush snap beans (also Burpee). They were prolific and tasty. Very easy to grow, like the peas. I have to say that I never paid attention to the difference in the time to maturity between beans (50 days to maturity) and peas (65 days). That explains why I had more beans that were overripe – I waited too long to pick them. I also found that I had to take more time picking them because they tended to hide or get lost among all the leaves. Patience, Julie, patience.

Carrots. Danvers Half Long (Livingston, 75 days to maturity). I probably could have thinned them a bit more, but they produced a fair amount in the 6- to 8-inch range. I should have done more plantings – a couple rows several weeks apart. I also should have put them in earlier – a closer look at the seed packet says they can be sowed as soon as the soil can be worked. Memo to self: Get the tiller out earlier, work up the ground and don’t worry about getting everything in at once. The bonus of several plantings would be a longer season of fresh carrots.

Peas, beans and carrots have almost always worked for me, so I consider them staples in my garden. I definitely want to include them in my garden this year, too.

Next up: The ups and downs of growing tomatoes.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. […] A look at last summer, part I (gardenbooyah.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Thanks Barbara! I’m having fun doing it — can’t wait until planting time.

  3. Posted by Barbara on February 19, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Forgot my name

  4. Posted by Anonymous on February 19, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Julie, love the blog and really, really enjoy your writing. You’ve been in editing so long, I forgot how great you are at writing. Can’t wait for the next installment.

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