March 15, 2014

2014 Garden Plans

Last year, being the first summer in our new house, I worked a small semi-raised bed in my backyard. The previous owners probably hadn't used it in at least a season, but there was evidence of past vegetable growth. Going into the summer, I knew little about gardening and considered my attempt as an experiment to see what I can do with just basic materials and some plants.

My 2013 garden was quite a learning experience. We had a horrible summer for gardening, first with flooding rains and then drought-like conditions for the hottest part of the season. My potted eggplant didn't survive and was diseased and rotted. I had to give up on it by mid-July. My strawberries, grown in a deck box, kept getting eaten by a rogue squirrel, and my soil was too clay-like and packed to grow root vegetables (like the turnips I planted).

I did have success with my tomato plant, aside from that nasty squirrel's habit of stealing one a day and eating only half, and my jalepenos grew fast and well.

Overall, I learned what I was doing wrong, what's up with my soil - my lawn guy had some input on that, and after studying the U of MN home garden website, I'm a bit more prepared for the 2014 season.

This year is going to be tough with a very cold spring. We still have a lot of snow on the ground and I have no idea when we'll have 65+ degree days on a regular basis. It's hard to calculate back from potential last frost at the moment but I'm just going to start seeding indoors and see how things go.

I invested in a large (for a private home) greenhouse, which I'll erect inside on the bottom floor by the sunny patio doors. I'll add some UV lighting if the plants are stuck inside for more than 4-6 weeks. While waiting for spring to actually begin, I'm planting seeds in trays to grow:
  • pepperocini
  • red mercury peppers
  • gourds and pumpkins
  • two varieties of cucumbers
  • broccoli
I would prefer to directly sow some of those, but this weather isn't amenable to that. I'll be moving the greenhouse outdoors in late spring and inside growing a few greenhouse crops:
  • green onions
  • cilantro
  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • strawberries
  • carrots (in large buckets)
I'm also going to start some asparagus in the greenhouse and find a permanent home for it next season as it begins to mature. I'm on the fence on whether to start my greens inside or out. I could go either way really. I also have to pick up some tomato plants later in the season to put directly outside.

Since my soil is terrible, really terrible, I'm doing my first bale garden this year. I got 8 oat bales from a local farmer and plan to start prepping them once the snow melts. It could take a month to get them ready, so I really do hope that snow is gone soon. For now, they're stacked in my garage with my soil, tools, and seeds.

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