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A Year in the Garden, Part 3

My seedlings are growing strong inside and all signs of freezing night weather have passed, so it’s time to plant my cool weather crops outside! I’m very excited in case you couldn’t tell. Earth Day activities always get me in the mood for planting and gardening in general.

In our family, we eat a big salad every day and we like a variety of baby greens, so we are planning to plant spinach and 3 kinds of lettuce this year. As I mentioned a few posts ago, last year I finally reclaimed a prime area of our yard for my garden. We follow the Square Foot Garden methodology by Mel Bartholomew. I highly recommend his book if you like to garden and are short on space. Heck, even with 3 acres, we use this method, as it’s easy peasy and pretty darn fool proof. Last year was the labor-intensive year, as we had to build our raised beds and mix our soil. This year, I get to reap the rewards though as my garden is ready to plant with no work needed at all. I merely evened out the soil with my hands and the beds were ready for seeds.

So lets get started! With the amount of lettuce we go through, I have an entire 4’x5’ bed dedicated to lettuces and spinach. That bed isn’t divided into 1’x1′ squares like my other beds. That’s because I plant a whole row of each lettuce type and I find it easy this way given that the bed is dedicated to lettuces. I also planted 4 other square feet with lettuce since it will be a few months before the summer watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkin crops can be planted there.

Lettuce seeds are tiny, so it’s hard to sow just one in each hole for planting. Never fear, you can cut the weaker ones that sprout once you see what it coming up. I’ve even had good luck transplanting little seedlings to other spots where a seed failed to sprout. This is a great thing to get the kids involved with too. Every child can drop seeds into the holes, no matter the age. My 8 year old pokes the holes, and the 5 and 3 year olds drop in the seeds.

I have a sprinkler set up in the garden and hooked to the hose is a timer so the seeds can get daily water, but not too much. I’m eventually going to do a drip irrigation system in the garden hooked up to a rain barrel to maximize our water conservation efforts, but that’s for another year. 

When it gets a bit warmer, we’ll plant more of the garden, some summer crops this time. I’m itching to get the tomatoes and peppers that I’ve started into the ground, they are all growing indoors quite nicely.

Now is a great time too to firm up your garden plans, and decide what you are planting and where it should go. Don’t forget some flowers too, they are great for attracting bees, and annuals like marigolds are good deterrents for aphids and other bugs that you don’t want in the garden.

Kristi Ashley is a homeschooling mom of three who spends time in the garden or hiking nearby her Hudson Valley, New York home. She is fabric artist, amateur photographer, scrapbooker and avid reader. Find her work and blog at Tickety Bu.

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It’s been an amazing summer in our community garden patch. We have grown countless yummy veggies and even some fruit. The watermelons are getting big and the kids can’t wait to bring one home soon.

I think one of the funnest things to grow in your own garden is potatoes. I know “funnest” is not a word. But the children insist that this word applies when it comes to potatoes. Have you ever grown potatoes yourself? If not you definitely must give it a try. Even if you don’t have much space they are so worth it.

First you dig a hole. You lay your potatoes down in it. Cover it up with dirt. Water your garden.  Soon you will find green leaves sprouting above.  You never know what’s going on down under. As you watch the plants grow bigger and stronger you just know about the treasure under the soil. You wait and wait. And then one day you grab a pitchfork and go dig up your dinner.

Don’t use a spade or shovel or you may cut your potatoes in half and chop right through them when you dig! The pitchfork is the only way to go unless you want to dig with bare hands. We used our fingers too…

We grew red potatoes and little yellow fingerlings. The golden fingerlings were served the same night. Sorry you won’t find any picture evidence from that dinner. They disappeared too quickly. Tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with some salt and pepper we baked them in the oven. There they turned creamy and yummy. Fresh from the earth they went straight down in our tummy. I swear they were the best thing we ate this year.

Good thing we planted  half of our patch with potatoes. Each week we can dig up a few more…