On incremental gardening.

Its the time of year when gardeners are feeling the pinch.  As you rapidly approach the magical date of the average last frost  you are eyeing your seedlings, re-checking your garden plan (and if you're like me, making last minute changes), and obsessively checking the NWS for the 7 day forecast of nighttime lows.

I feel it, but often on the days where I panic about not having enough time (or good weather), I also realize its all broken down into manageable parts.  Kitchen gardeners with a wide variety of vegetables are really at an advantage.  This is one reason I really like having a raised bed garden--though really any garden divided into sections has the same benefit.

Some work is already done in the fall.  Garlic (should be obvious in the photo above) comes up all on its own, after being planted in October.  The rest of the beds had compost, leaves, and grass clippings piled on for their winter's nap.  First bed to be prepped in early spring (in front of garlic), is an onion patch.  Next up, on the far left corner (and elsewhere), a few beds for potatoes were made ready, along with one for peas, and another for early greens.  The hooped bed on the left is broccoli and cabbage, which went in a little later.  Lastly, there's a bed waiting for tomatoes, which won't go in for another week or so--you can see it still has it's winter coat on.

Another mix of beds:  Hooped and/or covered beds were planted in the last week or so (more brassicas, carrots, leftover leeks and onions).  One uncovered bed has favas and spring greens (planted around the same time as the onions "upstairs")  The green-looking bed in the foreground was planted with a cover crop of oats and peas  during our freak warm weather in March, and just turned it over last week.  I'm still new to using cover crops: but I'll do an update post in a few weeks.  In the middle is a patch that I've left mulch on and just raked a few spots to plant peas and spinach--zucchinis will go in later.  And the blooming kale?  That (and another bed covered with compost and leaves) is currently being ignored--though the kale blooms are lovely, aren't they?  These are for warm weather crops of beans and eggplants/peppers, so I have left them for last.

I meet a lot of old-school gardeners that plant everything on Mother's day (or whichever date they learned from their grandmother for their particular region). What a lot of work! Consecutive planting (and harvests), and extending the seasons (now with the hoop I'm starting in February) really spreads out the labor, and the eating, into manageable sizes.  Not so daunting after all.

This, is a little daunting, however!  Still, the same rules apply:  we've broken the project into pieces, and right now the scariest part for me is trying to grow grass once we level the bottom.  Of all the things I grow, I'm the worst at grass!

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  1. Your old-school gardeners methods hit on something for me, Sara: that one backbreaking weekend most gardeners accept as being IT. And you're so right; when those folks come visit my gardens they think I am absolutely batshit, taking on "all that work." Hmm. Not really. A little here or there, with a couple visits to the garden every day and frankly nothing is overlooked or over-long.

    I've had not so good luck with green manures, though. There's no bed that needs "resting" for the 6-8 weeks needed for the greens to take off! And somehow the rye etc. that I've used as overwintering green mulch ended up more a problem than not. Layered wintertime blankets of stuff like you've done is the best way to go.

  2. Exactly. The neighbor that used the Roundup/till/plant method always gave me that look, and then abandoned her garden because it was too much work.

    I have a hard time with the timing of cover crops too, but want to work them into my schedule more: this particular bed had broccoli growing until December, so it missed the good compost pile that everybody else got.


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