Monday, March 19, 2012

First Day in the 2012 Garden

There isn't a whole lot going on in the backyard in March, but with the highs consistently in the 70's for a few weeks (what, global warming?) we had to get out into the garden to do some work. Here's how the garden looked before we started to wake it up from its winter nap yesterday.

The garlic, however, seems to have woken up on its own just fine. This is great, as it's the first year I've planted garlic and I was concerned that I hadn't planted it in optimal soil conditions.

The day's work included weeding one of the garden beds. Grass seems to find its way from the paths to the beds constantly. We've got a project underway to take care of that, but that's for another blog post, when we're hopefully much further along.

After weeding what I could see, I removed our winter "comforter compost" (just a covering of last fall's yard waste) from half the bed and found some more grass and weeds. After quickly taking care of them, it was off to find the compost.

We have a compost pile against the fence at the back of our garden, but I haven't been very good about turning it and I don't currently have a screen to sift it. So, much of this year's compost will be purchased. I covered a 4' x 8' section of one bed with three 3/4 cubic yard bags of composted manure. I didn't even mix it in; just arranged it on top. Over time, the rain will seep through and mix the compost into the soil. Also, the soil is still a little wet, so the inch or so layer of compost gives me some soft ground to plant in.

Speaking of planting, I decided I couldn't waste this great weather and had to experiment by planting some of my cool-weather crops, which I normally wouldn't plant for another month. This year I'm using the square foot gardening method for most of my beds. Last year I planted in rows, and I felt like I wasted a ton of space. Since I'm new to this, I wanted a physical reminder of what a square foot looks like. I got out some twine and a staple gun and created a square foot grid.

The grid only covers 8' of the 16' bed, as I didn't need to plant the other portion yet and I wanted to leave the comforter compost to do its work.

With the grid laid out, I planted:

  • Knight Peas (2 squares of 16)
  • Sugar Lace Peas (2 squares of 16)
  • Toppers Turnips (1 square of 9)
  • Tokyo Cross Turnips (1 square of 9)
  • Cherry Belle Radishes (1 square of 16)
  • Easter Egg Radishes (1 square of 16)
  • French Breakfast Radishes (1 square of 16)
  • Boltardy Beets (1 square of 16)
  • Early Wonder Beets (1 square of 16)
  • Crosby Egyptian Beets (1 square of 16)
  • Pine Tree Lettuce Mix (2 squares of 4)
  • Arugula (2 squares of 9)
  • Dash Spinach (1 square of 9)
If all goes well, I'll be eating from the garden in mid-April. Considering I don't have any winter plantings, that's a Wisconsin miracle!

The other garden news is we have a new acquisition: a heavy-duty garden cart. We found this little baby on sale at Lowe's for $50. Great deal, and a great way to haul stuff around the garden and avoid extra trips to the garage.


  1. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog. It looks like you have a great start on your 2012 garden, Liz! I grew Sugar Lace peas last ear, and absolutely loved them. I really like the layout of your raised beds, and I envy you that garden wagon. Really, only $50? I noticed the people behind our big cedar fence (I peeked through a knothole) had six of them out by their garden, they must have seen the sale too!

    1. This is my first year ever growing peas, and frankly I haven't eaten much of them ever, so I'm really looking forward to some garden-fresh ones.

      Yes, the wagon was on clearance at Lowe's - perhaps they're discontinuing this model? I'm not sure what someone needs six garden carts for - perhaps you should offer to take one off their hands :)

      We moved into this house in May 2010 and quickly threw in two raised beds behind the garage. Last year was the massive garden expansion during which we added the four remaining beds, removed the trees on the fence line to allow more afternoon sun in, and built the trellis/gate. The only work to do this year (hopefully) is try to remove the sod and make gravel paths, and create a small herb garden. I can't believe we can get all this work done in March in Wisconsin - such crazy weather we've been having!

  2. I planted some spinach in containers last week and already have some sprouting up, so that is exciting. I was waiting to plant peas and radishes until April. Do you think I could start them now being in zone 5A. Figured you might know a little more than me ;)

  3. Peas can be planted as soon as the soil can be be worked. Normally in my zone (5b) I wouldn't plant until around April 15, but with the mild weather, I'll take a chance. The seed packets I got had over 200 pea the worse that could happen is you plant a few and they don't work, and you plant again in a few weeks, right?