J-5

A shot of last year's early plot

A shot of last year’s early plot

The West Street Community Gardens have been tilled and staked off. To all those eager gardeners out there, sowing can begin!

With this year’s garden design in mind, I plan on visiting my plot — J-5 — this weekend to rake compost, build a fence and instill good vibes.

Last year, my salad garden was a success; I had plenty of lettuce and cucumbers and a good amount of tomatoes. My herbs were fantastic. My peppers were perfect and there were mountains of green beans (enough to give away by the Ziploc-gallon-bag-full).

But don’t get me wrong: there were some serious flops. My beets, carrots, pickling cucumbers and pumpkins failed miserably. C’est la vie. But since I’m still a relatively new gardener with stars in her eyes, I vow to make these vegetables grow this year.

Since I learn by doing, here a few new techniques that I will employ this year:

Start seeds early

Last year, I ended up buying a lot of established plants at local stores and farmers markets because I didn’t start my seeds early enough. I’m going to give it a shot this year. I’ve started a few peppers and herbs, and lots and lots of marigolds and zinnias.

Use compost frequently

I’m going to use all the money I save by starting my insect-friendly flowers early, on more compost. I’ve been composting my leftover food all fall and winter, which will give my soil a great start. Another round of natural mushroom compost (which I found up the street at Lowe’s) and my plants should thrive.

In addition to the initial offering, I will spread compost again here and there to keep my soil and plants healthy — something I didn’t do last year.

Spread straw right away

While I fully enjoy spending a day in my garden, I do not enjoy spending that time pulling weeds. I bought straw and covered my plot with the stuff last year, only I was about 1 ½ months too late in doing so. My weeds were already almost full-grown; all I did was cover them mildly, giving them a bit of shade.

As soon as I sow, the straw is going down. I will win the weed war this time!

Seed tape

Carrot seeds are basically microscopic and I find them incredibly hard to keep track of when sowing. So I bought carrot seed tape — the ingenious idea of some gardener tired of uneven rows and varying seed depths. This time around, I think my carrots will have a fighting chance. So will my beets, thanks to my Beet Tape. I went a little wild and bought Lettuce Tape, too. Could there be such thing as Pumpkin Tape??

 

Enjoy the weekend and happy planting!

Susan