08 March 2012

Plantin' Time

Every year I buy some version of the Farmer's Almanac intending to incorporate it into my gardening practices, and I never do.  I looked at it this past week and, if you believe in it, it was good that I did.  I've been trying to get out in the garden and plant potatoes, but things have kept me from it.  I checked the almanac and its recommendations were:

February 16-17 - Neither plant nor sow on these barren days.

I'm glad I looked!  I know it seems a little superstitious, but it can't hurt to choose one day over another, right.  One of the Farmers' Almanacs is online - I know of two competing versions - I was looking for another one to see if they have conflicting information, but I couldn't find the same information from the other one online.  I would like to buy the other one and compare.  The Almanac did tell me that this weekend would be good to plant potatoes:

February 18-20 - Any root crops that can be planted now will do well.

That's good because, being President's Day weekend, I had plans to do a lot of work in the yard, including planting spring vegetables.  I had to finish fencing off the garden from the chickens, fertilizing and actually plant.  I have a lot of chicken wire left over from building the coop.  My design for the fence included securing 2x4s in the holes of the concrete blocks that make up the raised beds.  I'll attach chicken wire to the posts.  I'm trying to use materials I already have - I have some wood in the garage, but I was able find several more good pieces in people's trash.  I couldn't decide how permanent I wanted to make this - I wanted it to be sturdy, but maybe not forever.  I dug out the concrete block holes as deep as I could manage and, after putting the 2x4s in the holes and leveling them, I added pea gravel that I had lying around.  After attaching the chicken wire, it's not that bad.  You can't lean on the posts, but it'll certainly keep the chickens out.  If I have a problem with it, I can always go back later and add concrete to the holes.  As I started preparing to plant today, I realized that making it chicken-proof, it also made it harder for me in the process.  One of these days we might fence off an area just for the chickens, but that day hasn't come yet.

I've never planted sugar snap peas before.  I figured out you're supposed to plant them in the spring, the same time you plant potatoes, onions, etc.  I had only heard of the kind that trellis and was looking forward to growing something on mine.  I bought some along with potatoes from Red Top Feed and I looked up the variety, "Sugar Ann", when I got home.  I discovered they were a bush-type plant and didn't need trellising.  That was ok - I still had to get more potatoes from the feed store, so I would get a different variety later.  When I went back and asked about a "running" pea, they had to call their other store, but afterward, they said the running pea was the "Sugar Snaps" variety.

...it's been a few weeks since I started writing this post and everything I planted is up.   I planted the potatoes a little closer than I have in the past, hoping to get more from the same amount of space.  I also planted both kinds of peas - I just noticed today that some of the "runner" peas are starting to look for something to grab onto - like a trellis!  I'll have to remember these varieties in the future so I know.

I have a good bit of peas left over, even after giving some to a neighbor.  I'm in the middle of designing the landscaping out front to incorporate vegetables into it, so I'm thinking of planting a lot out there - until I start planting warm season crops and perennials there.  Stay tuned for updates.

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