April Garden: Planting At Last! **Plus FREE Seed Giveaway!**

by Tammy Taylor~

I have to get my hands in the soil, y’all.  I don’t know what it is, just a part of me.  I don’t necessarily enjoy garden planning or bed preparations.  I don’t relish in the toils of actually planting.  I certainly don’t like hands-and-knees weeding.  And standing out there watering on a hot Texas summer day?  Ugh.  But gardening is something that I must do every year nonetheless.  It’s not an option.  It’s just embedded deep into my soul.  There’s something special about growing your own food.  You realize the toils that went into that tomato.  And you can delight at the special taste of it because it was picked at the peak of freshness & served with supper 10 minutes later, #amiright? I’ve been preparing the garden for weeks. And I’ve planted the indoor greenhouse with my heirloom seeds and now, now at last!  It’s time to plant!

Spring is here, in NE Texas it's time to get busy in the vegetable garden! Come see the progress in my April garden update. #TaylorMadeHomestead

Spring is my favorite time of year.  It’s been cold and dreary for months, the skies have been gray and the grass dreary brown.  The trees and shrubberies were just bare sticks and we’ve been stuck inside for way too long.  But oh the glory of spring!  Color bursts forth and the grass and trees turn vibrant green!  This time of year my thoughts turn to my veggie garden.

The nemesis in my garden has always been Bermuda grass.  It’s almost impossible to corral and once it gets a hold in the garden it’s neigh impossible to dig out.  The rhizomes purposely break apart in the sun-baked soil, assuring they will live another day to cause you grief again & again.  Last year was the first year EVER that I finally won the war against Bermuda grass.  I actually got to spend more time watering & harvesting than weeding (and often losing the war with) Bermuda grass.

I accomplished this magical feat by making a wide walking perimeter around my entire garden planting area.  I lined it with repurposed cattle feed sacks and topped those sacks with wood mulch that I scored for FREE.  Amending my garden area in this way was pretty, it was functional and it worked!  So RancherMan saved those feed sacks for me again.  I laid ’em flat and used the wood mulch to cover the paper.  My garden has 7 rows of planting areas and two squares.

Spring is here, in NE Texas it's time to get busy in the vegetable garden! Come see the progress in my April garden update. #TaylorMadeHomestead

 

I keep track of it all on my Garden Spreadsheet This is just an Excel spreadsheet where I add a tab for each year’s garden. When I get something planted I highlight the area in my yearly layout green and add information such as cultivar or planting date. Here’s what I’ve planted so far:

Previously Planted:

Back in February I planted my onion sets & relocated some walking onions gifted to me a couple of years ago by a sweet friend.  I also planted several different kinds of garlic: elephant garlic from an old abandoned homestead, TMR garlic using cloves harvested from our garden last fall, and cloves from a head of garlic purchased from the produce section of the store that had started to sprout.  RancherMan & I flavor lots of our food with onions & garlic so this section of the garden will hopefully keep us supplied.

Then last month RancherMan & I planted Wine Cap Mushrooms from inoculated grain seeds.  Growing mushrooms is something we’ve never done before so I’m pretty excited about that.  It takes a few weeks to begin to see them growing so I don’t yet have photos to show.  I’ll be sure to share them in our May garden update so be watching!

But now it’s spring, time to start planting the garden in earnest.  I’ve earmarked the first three rows for green beans.  I want to plant each row two weeks apart, so I’d planted heirloom green beans mid February .  The next row was planted  a week ago with regular ole Contenders because I have a pkg of seed I needed to use.  Contender bush beans are my favorite.

Time To Plant The April Garden!

In a week or so I’ll plant the third row with another heirloom variety of green beans.  Then I’ll prepare to start over by ripping up the first row that should be depleted by now and starting over with the succession planting.  Green beans are RancherMan’s & my favorite garden veggie.

I’ve also planted a mammoth sunflower at the end of each row next to the chicken run fence.  These will serve many purposes – Sunflowers are my favorite flower so some of my reasoning is purely selfish.  Plus my mom always delights at how beautiful they look in the garden when she comes to visit so I plant them for her too.  And since sunflowers grow tall and are on the west side of the chicken run, they’ll offer them a little shade in the heat of summer.  And of course you can’t forget as new beekeepers I’m helping provide a little enticement to bring those little buzzers to my garden area too!  The sunflower seeds will be fed to the birds & chickens, the largest seeds saved for next year’s planting.

I also planted something called Kandy Korn.  You see, last year a sweet friend suddenly lost her father, an avid gardener.  Even in her grief, she thoughtfully gave all his seeds to me.  I called her and asked what her favorite vegetable was & she said Kandy Korn.  It’s my hope that I can harvest many ears and present her the gift of her papa’s harvest this year.

3 Sisters Garden

The Kandy Korn is part of my 3 sisters garden – corn/beans/squash.  The Kandy Korn will grow tall and provide a trellis for my pole beans.  The beans will provide nitrogen for the heavy-need corn.  And my heirloom pumpkin vine (in place of squash) will shade & cool the soil & preserve the moisture for all three plants.  The 3 Sisters Garden means all three plants depend upon as well as help each other.  So my corn is planted & the heirloom pumpkin is planted too.  I’ll pick up some pole beans and then I’ll be all done with that.

Spring is here, in NE Texas it's time to get busy in the vegetable garden! Come see the progress in my April garden update. #TaylorMadeHomestead

Surprise!

And I have a tradition in my garden when I spy volunteer plants that come up from either compost seed or just seeds that pop up from last year’s garden.  I’ll take those volunteer plants and relocate them to their own section of the garden.  So when I found a volunteer tomato plant popping up, I relocated it.  I don’t yet know what kind of tomato it is – that’s part of the fun!

Spring is here, in NE Texas it's time to get busy in the vegetable garden! Come see the progress in my April garden update. #TaylorMadeHomestead

I also see some plants that look like they’re perhaps pumpkin, squash or cantaloupe.  It’s fun for me to poll our Facebook followers to see if they can guess what’s growing too.   Depending upon what I think they might be, I could leave them in this location.  I’ve planted this square with peanuts and a vining plant could provide a living mulch to keep the soil soft.  A softer soil should allow more unrestricted peanut production, dontcha think?  Hummm…

Spring is here, in NE Texas it's time to get busy in the vegetable garden! Come see the progress in my April garden update. #TaylorMadeHomestead

And of course the grapevine is starting to leaf out.  Last year it provided quite a harvest of grapes – I canned them all into grape juice since these Concords pop an intense flavor but are not seedless.

Spring is here, in NE Texas it's time to get busy in the vegetable garden! Come see the progress in my April garden update. #TaylorMadeHomestead

My asparagus is producing well!  We’ve enjoyed several meals that included fresh asparagus.  And my herbs are growing well too.  The oregano is growing, the basil is doing nicely and the sage is even blooming. Lovely!

And the potatoes that I planted in the trough are really taking off.  I’m topping their greenery with more hay as it starts peeking through.  This should help make a great harvest.  I look forward to harvesting those delightful red potatoes this year!

Spring is here, in NE Texas it's time to get busy in the vegetable garden! Come see the progress in my April garden update. #TaylorMadeHomestead

Not Finished Planting Yet!

There are still some things that I need to plant – my jalapenos, bells and heirloom tomatoes.  They’re not quite ready to leave the indoor greenhouse.  So now the greenhouse has been placed on the front porch & the seedlings are in the process of hardening off.  The greenhouse gets morning sun and some breeze to prepare my young seedlings for garden life.  I’ll be dropping them – cardboard planter and all – into the soil soon.

Heirloom Seed Giveaway!

Now hozabout this?? I thought since many of us are thinking about planting the garden I’d have a seed giveaway.  I have heirloom Sugar-Pie Pumpkin seeds to give away to 5 lucky winners.  I love to grow heirloom pumpkins.  Not only do I use heirloom seeds to plant my garden each year, but I love making my own Pumpkin Puree.  I can then use that puree to make my favorite Pumpkin Granola.  Delicious!

Getting the chance to win the heirloom seeds is easy – 1 point for each item is  given via the rafflecopter below, but there’s a BONUS option of 2 points to each reader who goes to the post pinned to the top of our Facebook Page & tags a friend they think may enjoy our little ole blog.  Do they like to cook from scratch or garden?  Do they enjoy being environmentally aware or living life the old way?  Or do they just enjoy reading about good ole life in the country?  TAG ‘EM on our Facebook Page!  You have through Sunday April 16th to enter.  Ready?  GO!

~TMH~

 

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26 thoughts on “April Garden: Planting At Last! **Plus FREE Seed Giveaway!**

  1. Christy

    Hard to chose a favorite but I would say the most ‘fun’ for me is anything in the squash family. They add pizazz to the table.

    Reply
  2. Michelle

    I love how you keep track of your garden in Excel. I wonder if I could figure that out. I loved reading about how you do some things, and I entered your giveaway. Wish me luck!

    Reply
  3. Gillian

    I think the most versatile – and therefore, my favorite – is the tomato! So much you can do with it! But of course, there are SO many wonderful garden plants. I would love to win these seeds! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      Gotta love a freshly-picked garden tomato, Gillian! Good luck with the contest! ~TMH~

      Reply
  4. Katy SkipTheBag

    I love your spreadsheet idea for keeping track of the garden! I need to be better about that, I always think I’l remember, but there are always surprises! Thanks for sharing on the Waste Less Wednesday Blog Hop!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      OMGosh Katy, game changer for me. And I have a companion planting guide for one of the spreadsheet tabs too. At the bottom of this spreadsheet page I also document which cultivars I plant, and the expiration of the seeds I’m using. Yeah I know you’re not SUPPOSED to use older seeds but I always do until my heirlooms provide enough saved seed to provide for the following year. ~TMH~

      Reply
  5. ColleenB.~Texas

    favorite veggie; I would have to say green beans and cucumbers Quite the garden layout. How well organized you are. Isn’t it nice seeing volunteers coming up. I got daughter #1 into some gardening this year. She’s growing mostly herbs along with a few veggies and think she also planted some watermelon. Couldn’t believe it when she bought a canning kit of which she want to can some jams and jellies. Will start her out with something simple; Canned wine jelly. sugar pie pumpkin makes for the best pumpkin puree. Happy gardening

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      I always delight in the volunteers Colleen, and they always seem to be the most vigorously-growing plants in the garden too. How exciting your daughter is being bitten by the gardening bug! ~TMH~

      Reply
  6. tonia conner

    Morning, I’m planting the spaghetti squash seeds I won from you last. Can hardly wait to see sprouts. I’m planting in a large pot next to a fence hoping it will climb. I’m thinking I can sling the squash if it gets too heavy for the vine. Think this will work? What a sweet thought and jester to give your friend the produce of her father.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      You’re gonna love those spaghetti squash Tonia. They’ll probably produce enough for you to share with others. You know how squash is… LOL Good luck on this giveaway! ~TMH~

      Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      My swiss chard is gifting me a resprouting from last year, Mickey! Yea! ~TMH~

      Reply
  7. Sara @ finditfixitorbuildit.com

    What amazing skills to have! If the apocalypse comes we’re all going to be turning to the farmers and homesteaders to teach us how to survive:) This really makes me want to start my own garden and just start small so that I can at least learn to grow a few things. Thanks for sharing this with us at the Home Matters Link Party, hope to see you again next week:) #HomeMattersParty

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      Gardening isn’t for everybody Sara, but most people find a lot of enjoyment in producing at least a small part of their own food. And to be honest, there really isn’t a comparison with the taste of a store-bought tomato vs a tomato picked fresh from your own garden. The difference is amazing! ~TMH~

      Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      Once you get your supply of heirloom seeds saved from your own garden, you’ll never have to buy seeds again, Kris. 🙂 ~TMH~

      Reply
  8. Josie

    Love to read your posts. They make my cheeks go up in a huge smile. With your vivid descriptions I can almost smell the rich soil and hear the bees buzzing. My favorite vegetable is corn from the garden, yet I grow many tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, marigold flowers (to help with pests), sunflowers, cabbage, jalapeno’s, and beans. Our asparagus is also coming up. Would you share a recipe for cooking & eating them? Thank you for all you do.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      Fresh asparagus from the garden doesn’t need much, it’s delicious on its own. Here’s what I do: I trim & wash the spears and lay them in a microwavable bowl. Then I add just enough water to allow the asparagus steam in the microwave, cover & microwave on high for about 2 minutes. I let it continue to steam covered in the microwave while I’m preparing supper, bumping it another minute or so if it’s not quite tender enough. I hate mushy asparagus and much prefer tender-crisp, so cook to your own personal tastes. Then the tiniest amount of butter and lightest sprinkle of salt & it’s done! ~TMH~

      Reply
  9. One of God's

    Hard to pick just one favorite as I love ‘ maters, cukes, and okra as well as almost anything else. Thanks for this opportunity. Just now getting a place where I’ll have room to grow pumpkins.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      I love to use pumpkin, cantaloupe & squash vines as a living mulch to cool the soil & preserve moisture. You’ll love these sugar-pie pumpkins too! ~TMH~

      Reply

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