Monthly Archives: March 2013

3 weeks before last frost

It is 3 weeks before last frost here and, once again, we were fortunate to have 2 days of wonderful weather, followed by a rainy day, which was perfect for planting all our cold season veggies outside.

What went into the garden:
Heirloom Rohrer Seed Brand: Little Marvel Peas, Romaine Lettuce, Butterhead Lettuce, Kohlrabi, Dwarf Kale, Beets, Arugula and Endive.
Also: Burpee Short ‘N’Sweet Carrots, Botanical Interested Speckled Lettuce , Peaceful Valley Organic Cortland Onions and Renee’s Garden Spinach.
Poppies, Borage, Yarrow and Butterfly Bush were put in also for beauty and to attract beneficial pollinators, such as butterflies and bees, to the garden when the time comes.

Peas were paired with carrots and endive, kale – with spinach and some mustard greens, kohlrabi – with chamomile (cabbage family members LOVE aromatic herbs) and lettuces with arugula were planted next to onions to protect them from caterpillars and cutworms.

We have been hand digging the ground with a shovel, to ensure maximum survival of the worms, least disturbance, yet maximum efficiency and hands-on approach to gardening. All the seeds are hand placed in the ground and covered with soil and straw.

We have tested our soil this year at Penn State and got positive results, stating we were not lacking anything in the soil. Which is great news!  The testing process was very easy and cheap Рonly $9 Рi would highly recommend everyone to test their garden soil and get recommendations from them.

Indoor, the sprouts are looking great. Cucumbers have germinated under the warm lights and the rest of the baby plants are looking good too.

We have received our organic planting potatoes from Peaceful Valley and our organic berry bushes from Rolling River Nursery – now they are waiting warmer weather to go to live outside!

I am happy with the garden progress so far! And looking forward to seeing sprouts in the garden soon, making the garden come to life!


4 weeks before last frost

As we cross the 4 week mark, snow flurries are flying past our window. Yet, hopeful and patient for Spring weather, we start cucumber and melon seeds indoors. They go directly under the heat lamp to maintain the necessary warm soil germination temperature, and will be monitoring them closely to make sure the soil stays moist.

We have planted Organic Heirloom Straight Eight Cucumbers and Homemade Pickle from Peaceful Valley. The former – to eat, the latter – to pickle. We are also trying out the fun looking Lemon Cucumbers this year ūüôā

We have also received and planted a set of Fort Laramie ever-bearing strawberries from Peaceful Valley as well. 25 organic plants for $4.99 Рgreat value! They went into our self-made cedar planter for indoor and outdoor use.

A word on the strawberry container – we have contemplated making the fancy multi-level strawberry container that look fun and seem to be so popular, yet after numerous calculations, we have come to the conclusion that they do not add sufficient space for the amount of effort and material they require, so we went with a basic, rectangle shape. The strawberries from last year seem to be doing very well in them.


5 weeks before last frost

At this time, most of the first round of planting seeds have been started in their containers.

The latest additions were the Rohrer Seeds Heirloom Long Island Brussel Sprouts and Tall Utah Celery, both of which are new plants for us, so we are yet to find out how we like growing and eating them!

Most of the plants from a couple of weeks ago are doing well and have nice looking sprouts. I will be thinning them out in the next few weeks to select the strongest seedlings.

Also, since we had a few days of lovely spring weather, i have managed to squeeze in a few first garden plantings: first round of peas, mixed with their complimentary carrots and some stuttgarter onion seeds (in a different location, as peas do not like onions and garlic). Stuttgarter onions are some of the best keepers and i am planning to save them over winter. I have planted two rows, about 100 onions so far and am planning to add another 50-100 more, estimating 2-3 onions usage per week throughout the year. I am planning to add some onion sets (baby onion bulbs from the previous year) to the planted seeds, they need to be planted in April and will provide a nice back up to the planted seeds. They have a faster turnaround, but less likely to keep well, so they will need to be used first.

Onion seeds are better started in the fall, which we had not done, so we will see how this turns out. Garlic, on the other hand, that we DID plant last fall is coming up beautifully. It is also our own heirloom garlic we have saved form the previous year – it was pretty much the only vegetable we managed to grow enough to last us the whole year, along with frozen green beans. I am planning to improve the quantity of stored veggies dramatically this year.



Garden Goals 2013

When planning and planting the garden, it is always useful to outline the goals you wish to achieve with your planting for the the year and the benefits you wish to reap in the end. This helps to plan the types of crops you would like to plant, as well as their quantities. Things to consider: over-winter storage, canning, drying, freezing potential etc.

Here are our goals for this year:

1. Plant organic/untreated seeds when possible.

2. Plant heirloom/open pollinated seeds in order to gather seeds for next year.

3. Practice crop rotation, complimentary planting, circular batch framework and, as always, organic gardening.

4.  Supply enough to last all year:

To keep: potatoes, onions, garlic, beets, carrots and a few types of beans (kidney, black)

To freeze: peas, green beans, spinach, broccoli, lima beans, basil, parsley pesto.

To dry: chamomile, thyme, oregano, mint, sage, rosemary, nettles and many other herbs.

To can: pickles, tomatoes, strawberries.

To compost: stinging nettles.

5. Start an edible flower garden: poppies, borage, solomon’s seal, nasturtium, lavender, calendula and others.

6. Start berry bushes for future harvests: black and red currants, goji berries, blueberries, elderberries, raspberries, high-bush cranberry, blackberry.


What are the goals for your garden?

6-8 weeks before last frost

This weekend marks the long awaited deadline for starting the new garden – 6 weeks before the last frost, which in this PA area is set to be on April 21.

This means most of the plants will be started this weekend in their transplant containers, and, with good weather, a few cold weather crops will go into the garden as well, such as peas, onions and kale.  I had the opportunity to start most of our plants early, at 8 weeks (2 weeks ago) but need to finish our list and also duplicate a couple plants (to stagger them though the season).

Plants that went in two weeks ago:


Seeds of Change Organic Cherry tomatoes
Burpee Organic Beefsteak Tomato
High Moon Organic Cosmonaut  Volkov Slicing Tomato
Botanical Interestes Organic Heirloom Italian Roma Tomato
Seeds fo Change Organic Early Green Broccoli
Rohrer Seeds Calabrese Heirloom Broccoli
Rohrer Seeds Heirloom Chives
High Moon Organic Corno di Toro Sweet Pepper
Lake Valley Anaheim Pepper Mil Chili


Burpee Thyme
Seeds of Change Organic Dill
Horizon Herbs Organic Witch Hazel
Horizon Herbs Organic Lavender
Horizon Herbs Organic Viola
Botanical Interests Heirloom Butterfly Bush (to attract Monarch and other butterflies)

A few things that were started earlier in the winter:

Rohrer Seeds Heirloom Italian Parsley
Rohrer Seeds Heirloom Yellow Sweet Spanish Onion

We had also so things growing under lights through the winter: green onions, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, spinach, valerian root, wormwood, strawberries, stinging nettles. Those will go outside when it warms up either in containers or directly into the garden.

I will record our plantings this weekend as all of the seeds go into their sprouting containers.