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Blogging about gardening in zone 4, marriage, our golden retriever and life in general.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A real start to Farming 2011

... Sort of. 

DJ and I accomplished a lot on Saturday and I can already say that our 2011 farm has a much better chance of being successful than last year's effort. Compost tilled in, actual terraces that create flat beds and a more planned approach to planning stack all the cards in our favor. 

If only I could control hail. 

We cheaped out on the terracing effort, by going with untreated lumber instead of a more waterproof treated lumber. This is all experimental to us, and well, even though it's not "doing it the right way"... it'll suffice for 2011. Again, our terracing is intended to level out the gardening area and facilitate effective watering. We, I mean, DJ, created three levels.

Here's how it looked coming together:

While DJ worked on the terracing I started seeds in flats. I've got 18 marigold, 18 snapdragons, 3 eggplant, 3 more broccoli, 6 bibb lettuce, 6 romaine lettuce, 3 purple basil and 3 leeks going so far. When I plant seeds, I label them with the date planted and the time they should germinate.

Marigolds aren't my favorite flower, as they're too short to be cut for display. They are, however, a great companion plant for tomatoes where they draw bees to polinate and attract bugs which are detrimental to tomatoes. And I didn't know their seeds looked like feathers!

Once DJ finished wrapping the farm area in chicken wire to deter gophers, I went ahead and strung out square feet so I knew exactly where plants would go. My estimation of the space we had to work with when I planned the garden in January was a little too big. Once we strung out the square feet, I realized we were short two feet on row lengths. This required adapting the farm plan on the fly. No problem; it's a spreadsheet and can be erased. 

I ended up planting four squares of Spinach, two squares of Chantenay carrots, two squares of Kaleidoscope mix carrots, two squares of Bibb lettuce, two squares of Romaine lettuce and four squares of sugar snap peas. I also popped a bunch of Sweet peas into the edges of where I'l planted; they'll be a beautiful screen this summer!

The Farming spreadsheet currently looks like this (green are items in the ground, yellow are plants started indoors):

Here's what it looks like in real life:

You might have noticed that the bell peppers have been removed from this plan. I've decided to keep the garden pots in the front flower beds, and this year the peppers will go "out front" as that area gets the most sunshine and heat. I've always struggled with getting bell peppers to ripen before the first frost, so hopefully moving them out front will help. I'll also plant a jalepeno and banana pepper in front. 

I'll let you know how things are growing on Friday!


  1. I love the terraces! They look great! We opted for untreated wood too - not wanting anything strange creeping over to our veggies. But maybe some preservatives and weatherizing would do my body good. Haha! Can't wait to see more... I'd gotten a pack of marigolds, but haven't planted any yet. Excited to see your flowers bloom!

  2. I was thinking about how you might grow peppers in zone 4. Have you considered a hoop house? Thomas at A Growing Tradition has a very nice tutorial (http://www.agrowingtradition.com/2010/11/building-hoop-house-for-garden.html).