by Tammy Taylor
Well spring has finally sprung!! I’ve always heard in our area of NE Texas (planting zone 7b) that you don’t dare plant until after Easter because a rogue frost can still swing by & kill your plants. Oh my goodness it was so hard for me to wait! So to pacify my need to garden I planted up my Indoor Greenhouse in February and as I watched those tiny seedlings sprout I just got more excited. Then I decided this year I wanted to try something different – I wanted to Deep Mulch the entire garden surface to reduce the maintenance and hopefully quit fighting that dang Bermuda grass in my raised beds all year. So I had RancherMan drop a 1,000-lb round bale of winter grass into my garden area & I started spreading it thickly over the entire surface. When the garden was prepped I sat back & waited (im)patiently for Easter. Then the big day arrived, FINALLY I was able to plant – woo-hoo! Here is my April veggie garden update:
It had been a long hard winter and as it approached planting day it was dreary, cloudy & rainy for weeks, but even then I was planning from inside. I have a
cheater um, easy way to plan what I’m going to plant and where using a Garden-Planning Spreadsheet. Using this information I can see what I planted last year for proper rotation, read companion planting info for veggies I typically plant and see what crops did well & which ones performed poorly in prior years. So I carefully planned out my raised-bed veggie garden layout. A few days before I was ready to plant I brought out the tender seedlings from my indoor greenhouse and started hardening them off to prepare them for their life outside. I always have such a hard time with this step – seedlings often die immediately after being planted! C’mon, someone please tell me what I’m doing wrong. Do I need to sing to them? Tell them funny stories? Do a little tap dance?
One plant I was able to plunk right down into the garden was my jalapeno. You see, back in 2013 several wonderful volunteers came & planted my garden for me as I was going through medical issues – what a joy that gift of love was! One of the plants they planted that year was a jalapeno seedling but surgeries & doctors appointments as well as yet another drought that year kept that plant from producing until fall. Just as it began producing a killing frost was predicted so RancherMan & I dug it up & overwintered it in our garage, replanting it in the garden last spring. It produced well last year but when fall arrived we wondered if we could overwinter this big beast again and plant it for a THIRD time this spring. But the mammoth plant went into shock as soon as we dug it up last fall & before long it was just bare sticks & crunchy curled leaves. I gave up the ghost on it back in December, waiting for nicer weather to haul the huge tub outside & dump the soil back in the garden. But then last month I saw this:
NO WAY!! This plant was still alive! So RancherMan & I brought it out to the garden and plunked it into a raised bed. It’s really beginning to flourish, looks like we’re gonna get three years out of that one tiny seedling!
Other than my amazing jalapeno plant, my concord grapevine is doing well. These grapes are amazingly flavorful but they’re not seedless. Last year was the first season it gave me a tiny crop. I really need to research & find out how to process seeded grapes, I’d love to put these delicious orbs to use!
And I transferred a blackberry vine to my garden area a couple of years ago. I tie the vines along my fence so they don’t touch the ground, otherwise they’d go crazy and take over. Last year it gave me a marginal harvest, although right before the berries were ready to pick a nasty berry-stealer marauded my garden and stole most of them. Grrrrr… It’s blooming up nicely now though & I’ll be sure to keep an eye on it in a few weeks for those juicy berries.
Of course I planted garlic & onion several weeks ago, they’re chugging along just great. Especially nice since we eat lots of onions & garlic, it’s the healthy way to jazz up the taste of food.
Other than that there’s not too much to show yet – I’ve planted lots of tender seedlings & I’m hoping they don’t succumb to my clumsy attempts at hardening off. I’ve planted heirloom tomatoes, spaghetti squash, summer squash, zucchini, bell peppers, watermelon, pickling cucumbers, luffa, cantaloup, green beans, carrots, spinach, sage, oregano & thyme. Most of my transplanted seedlings are looking kinda tough (again, someone PLEASE tell me what I’m doing wrong!!) There is one ray of hope, I apparently can’t kill my summer squash seedling & it seems to be giving it a run. (chants softly: go, Go, GO!!)
And winning the award for the most fun crop in the garden this year: Peanuts (applause from crowd…) For the very first time ever I’ve planted peanuts this year. I’ve read up on this crop’s planting & care. I’m reading that you just crack the peanut shells open being careful not to remove the red papery coating of the peanuts themselves and those are what you plant in the ground. I got these planting peanuts at a feed store in a nearby town, I can’t wait to see how they do!
So there ya go, a quick tour of my April veggie garden. Well, as much of a tour as I can do this early in the game anyway. How’s your garden growing – are you able to plant yet? What will be the star of the show in YOUR garden??