I know it’s the end of February, and for most of us, spring is probably a month or two away still. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t start planning your spring garden. There are many things you can do now to prepare and get ahead of schedule for the warm weather that will be showing up in just a couple of months. so here is WHAT I am planning to plant in my spring garden along with how and why I am planting it.
This year is actually going to be a first for me, I am going to be planting some flowers as well as my regular vegetable garden. Up until now I always thought that having flowers was such an unproductive waste of space. In reality, though, flowers are an integral part of the gardening ecosystem. They help attract pollinators (AKA bees) to early starter flowers. Not to mention, with our declining bee population, my goal is to have flowers blooming as soon as the bees are waking up! Dandelions are usually the first food sources for bees in the spring, so hopefully, I can give them an extra food source! I was lucky enough to get in on Cheerios “bring back the bee” initiative about a year ago. If you signed up with them they sent you a pack of Vessey’s bee-friendly wildflower mix. So my goal is to have planted flowers to entice the bees onto my balcony so that they can then know to come back and pollinate my vegetable plants.
With the Spring being cooler than the summer (obviously) I want to start out with cooler weather crops such as beans, lettuce, broccoli, and of course my herb garden. This year I’m actually going to switch it up and use my large storage tub for a large green leaf Garden. I plan to be growing some dark green cos. lettuce, baby leaf spinach, Tyee spinach, Tokyo bakana, regular iceberg lettuce, buttercrunch and of course I can’t forget my kale. so in a 63-liter storage container, I plan on growing a couple plants each. So with seven varieties, I will probably get around fourteen plants in my spring garden tub of greens. They are a great cool weather plant, They won’t bolt (start producing flowers and seeds) until early summer. this hopefully will allow for several different meals. As well as harvesting several batches of spinach and kale for the freeze.
If you are new to gardening of any sort. Bolting halts your ability to eat the plant, because it then turns bitter. So until the summer comes, if you see one of your lettuces growing a flower head. Just snip the little head off as soon as possible. I usually will take a leaf as a taste test just to see if it’s too late for that plant. I am in the mentality that you can never have too many seeds! So if they bolt, and I taste the leaves and it’s too late. I will let it bolt and collect the seeds.
This year another one of my hopes is you have a beautiful large and luscious herb garden. Right now my plans are to grow parsley, dill, and basil in it. With an emphasis on parsley and basil. Doing this will allow me to not only have fresh herbs available but I also plan on drying a lot of it as well. This way we have an abundance of homegrown herbs on-hand all year round. Even if for some reason I am unable to grow herbs in my kitchen during the winter at least I’ll have them dried from my garden. I also haven’t gone seed shopping yet. So I might actually be able to add more herbs into the pot depending on what I find when I go shopping.
Something I have yet to grow successfully in my garden is beans and peas. So this year I’m testing out a tent pole method of growing them. In two different pots I will have my Little Marvel Peas and in the other, my Blue Lake 274’s. This will allow me to not only test out the tent pole method that I have in my head. It will also allow me to hopefully finally be successful in growing both beans and peas in my Spring Garden. This will actually be my test for the season. I always have one or two plant products that I want to test out. This year it will be two new plants and a growing method. I will be doing another post about the tent pole method that I am going to be trying out. However the tent pole method is basically using a central Pole and then I am going to run twine down to the four corners so that the beans can grow up the twine and kind of act like a vertical growing method so it will help them keep from getting all tangled up and it allow air to flow freely through the plants so that I don’t get any diseases caused by moisture, or anything else of that sort in my plants.
In my final planter, I will be growing some broccoli. This is a pretty deep and long planter so that will allow me to probably have at least 4 Broccoli plants in my spring garden. Now, this is another plant that I have actually been very unsuccessful with. I’ve tried growing it a couple of different times, the first was from seed which did not grow properly, at all. The next one was actually a seedling that I bought at a local Nursery. This time I will be trying from seed again and hopefully, we’ll get it right.
so, if all goes well this year. I should have lots of lettuces, kale, and spinach for the spring. As well as kale and spinach in my freezer. Hopefully, as long as my broccoli grows properly and produces I’ll also have at least four heads of broccoli, but I have also heard of people successfully getting a bumper crop (a second or more crop from the same plant) of broccoli. So if I play my cards right, there is a possibility that we could actually have 8 heads of broccoli in total. The approximation estimate for the beans and peas shows roughly two to four pounds per plant. So if I have four plants of each hopefully that will be another opportunity to can or freeze the excess. So that I can again prolong the harvest into the summer, fall, and winter months as well. Then, of course, you have herbs and they are ever-growing. I might even be able to bring them inside when it gets too cold. so they can actually grow over and over again.
While I have my Spring garden growing. I will actually be germinating and growing my summer garden gradually over time as well. So that they have an early start. So stay tuned for that update!