Sunday, February 20, 2011

Our 2011 Garden Plan and February Garden Chores

I realize that most people don't do much in the way of gardening during February, and we're usually right with them. During the last week, however, we have had such wonderfully moderate temperatures that we've been able to get outside and get some work accomplished. Spring is such a busy time in the garden, so we're really thankful if we can get some of our chores out of the way.

The hills are not exactly alive - with music or anything else - but they are slightly thawed

The first thing we accomplished was mowing down our Heritage raspberry bushes. That is something we do in the late fall or winter every year. Normally, Heritage raspberries will give you two smaller crops in June and September. If you cut them down to the ground, they produce one, larger crop. This is much better for canning and freezing purposes.

I promise there were raspberries here!

We've also started work on our new square foot garden boxes. As I shared previously, we're converting our entire garden from a traditional row garden to a square foot garden. Here's the plan for our new garden. It is color-coded by planting date for our area.

*If you've read this post before, you might have noticed this plan has changed a few times. That's because Hubby Dear keeps tinkering with it. I think it's set now.

We're allowing our two oldest children, The Thinker and Mini Me, to plan, plant, and maintain the single 4x4' box that is furthest west on the plan. They've chosen an eclectic mix of cabbage, carrots, lettuce, beets, peas, peppers, and strawberries. That should be interesting, to say the least.

We made the boxes, covered the ground with weed cloth, and put the boxes in place during the fall. Now we have to make A LOT of Mel's Mix to fill the boxes.

Everytime we go to the "big city", we're filling the back of the family mini van with vermiculite, peat moss, and all the different kinds of compost we need to make Mel's Mix. We'll work on filling the boxes with Mel's Mix over time. Otherwise, it would be an overwhelming task.

Hubby Dear's Garden Plan lets us know which boxes are going to be planted first, so we're filling them in order.

This box is double deep for potatoes and still needs another batch of dirt added to it

The only problem is, yes, it is very pleasant outdoors, but it is w-i-n-d-y. We live on the top of a hill, so we are naturally more windy anyway, but when we have unseasonable temperatures? Your hat better have a stampede string. Mine doesn't, so I spent some time chasing it around the yard.

Even though we knew better, we decided to try and make up some Mel's Mix. We mixed the components together in our garage and all was well until we tried to dump it into the garden box. I could probably use some dermabrasion, but I hadn't intended to get it from a tornado of Mel's Mix! So much for that project. Hopefully good weather and Hubby Dear's work schedule will coincide again soon. We have to make 17 more batches of Mel's Mix and lay down pea gravel to cover the pathways between the boxes.

We did successfully make a bunch of garden purchases. Here is the list of the seeds we ordered from our favorite seed company, Johnny's Selected Seeds:

Green Bush Beans - Provider
Carrots - Nelson
Corn - Mystique Bicolor
Cucumbers - Alibi
Lettuce - "Allstar Gourmet Lettuce Mix", Winter Density buttercrunch
Onions - Copra storage onion
Peas - Caselode (shelling), Sugar Sprint (snap)
Potatoes - Yukon Gold
Pumpkin - Baby Pam
Radish - Cherriette
Watermelon - Little Baby Flower
Beets - Red Ace
Cabbage - Farao

We also bought inoculant for the beans and peas. This year, we're planning on buying tomato and pepper plants from a local nursery, but in the future, we hope to start our own seeds at home. Also missing from list above is cantaloupe. We'll buy seeds of our favorite variety (Minnesota Midget) from the same local nursery.

We're getting our strawberries shipped to us from Stark Bros. in late March. We ordered 75 plants of Earliglow (a June-bearing variety) and 25 of Tribute (an Everbearing variety). We also ordered a few more raspberries to fill out our row. We're going to plant a couple of pecan trees but Stark Bros. won't have those in stock until fall, so I guess that's when we'll be planting them.

Something else we bought that I think will be a real help is this Tractor Scoot from Gardener's Supply Co.

Image from

It is small enough to fit through the aisles of our garden. We can sit and weed or harvest at our leisure. It's kind of a luxury purchase and, frankly, probably intended for the senior citizen set, but I think we'll really use it a lot. Maybe it will encourage me to get out and weed more often since I won't resemble one of those kitschy garden ornaments:

Our neighbors and the cows in the pasture next to us will appreciate it. They still send me thank you notes for installing better blinds in our master bedroom.

And that's what we've been doing to get ready for the growing season.

Are you planning on gardening this year? Have you been busy getting ready for spring?


  1. Love your garden plans! Wow, don't I wish I had that kind of space...Started seeds in newspaper pots yesterday. Hope to see sprouts soon! Share more soon, please!

  2. We started our square foot gardens yesterday too. We live in Texas so we can start pretty early:) Thanks so much for all of your wisdom and advice. I read you daily and have already begun my journey with preparedness.

    I also have an award for you over at my place

  3. True Texan - Thanks! The good thing about square foot gardening is that you don't need too much room to grow a lot of food. We're kind of supersizing it.

    Laura - Thanks for the award! I'm glad you have been enjoying my blog. I'll pop on over to yours.

  4. Do you put some sort of barrier on the ground before you add the Mel's Mix or do you just pour it on top of the soil?

    Love the square foot boxes!


  5. Jennifer - We laid out weedcloth over the entire garden area - under the boxes and paths and all - and then put the boxes on top. The weedcloth is the brown and black stuff you see in the photo of my boxes.