Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ready, Set, Garden!

It's almost time!

I think we're going to wait two or three more weeks, and then our garden is going to get planted!

This is our first year to have a backyard garden. Some days I think we're a little too ambitious for first-timers; other days I wonder if we're planting enough.

My husband is going to build raised beds, three of them, eight feet long by four feet wide. In case your math skills are a bit lacking today {as mine usually are}, that's a total of 96 square feet of gardening space!

To help amateurs like us, I heartily recommend Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening

This thick resource is a treasure of information. So far, I've read about everything from composting to companion planting, from basil to eggplant to parsley, from helpful insects to destructive insects, from raised beds to cottage gardening and everything in between. This book really is "the indispensable resource for every gardener"!

This year we've decided to plant squash, zucchini, jalepenos, eggplant, watermelon, pumpkin, spearmint, peppermint, flat-leaf parsley, basil, rosemary, cilantro, strawberries, and a few more I can't recall at the moment. To help with natural pest control, we're going to plant some African and French marigolds.

Our hot compost pile has been going for about three weeks now. It's been a bit of a challenge to find the {right} mix of carbon and nitrogen, and we're still not quite there. There have been a few times when my hubby has to hold his nose when he turns the barrel. So we add more dead leaves and dirt. I just hope the learning curve is generous!

So I have some questions for all you gardeners out there...from amateurs to master gardeners...
  • What are you planting this year?
  • What are you doing right now to prepare for the growing season?
  • What are your favorite companion planting combos?
  • Any advice you can share with the rest of us?

Written and submitted by Lindsey @ Penny-wise


  1. *What are you planting this year?*
    All of the garden staples, plus drying beans(think soups and refried beans come fall and winter). This is a new venture for us. I am really hoping to have a good stash of food for the off season.

    *What are you doing right now to prepare for the growing season?*
    Not as much as I would like :O| It is so wet here and only 40 degrees today.

    *What are your favorite companion planting combos?*
    This year I am going to try planting nasturtiums next to my squash. I heard they help ward off those menacing squash bugs.

    *Any advice you can share with the rest of us?*
    I am a novice, but composting and raised beds have been our two biggest success factors.

  2. We are in zone 8. Right now - early to mid-March - we are/have been planting lettuce seed, summer squash seed, transplants of tomatoes, peppers, chard, bok choy, lettuce, spinach, broccoli (although we may be too late on the broccoli). Next we will plant beans and cucumbers and herbs like basil and dill.

    We have already planted (last fall and winter) garlic, potatoes and onions - and have lettuce, green onions, spinach, and mustard greens that grew throughout the winter. Also - Jerusalem artichokes, and I think I will probably regret planting these, as they are growing like weeds and coming up from seed from the plants last year...

    (BTW this is Gem from SCM;)

  3. Right now I am looking at several feet of snow in my garden here in Canada!

    Inside I am looking after my worm composting bins so I have good fertilizer for the spring planting. Usually I have about 1000 plants started already, but this year am taking it easy and going to the greenhouse.

    Companion planting: tomatoes and carrots, cabbage and marigolds (haven't had any cabbage worms since we started this, but you have to surround the cabbage plant), cucumbers and radishes (let the radish flower & it keeps away bugs), garlic and roses, garlic and raspberries (helps with aphids).

    (houseofchaos from scm)

  4. I had just typed out a long comment and then lost it! Let me try again.

    I've tried gardening in the ground, and with raised beds, and have not been successful with either. Two years ago we tried the Square Foot method with a raised bed and mixing out own soil and it failed miserably. The few things that did grow were destroyed by bugs not long into the growing season.

    I love to start plants from seed and watch things grow so this year I decided to try Container Gardening on my porch, which gets full sun all day. Being in Zone 8, and close to 9, I got started back in February with some store bought plants and some from seed.

    * What are you planting this year?

    In a Topsy Turvey Tomato/Herb planter (the upside down one) I have 2 Cherry Tomato plants, 3 Medium sized Tomato plants, 2 Marigolds, and 1 Strawberry. In pots I have Bush Green Beans, Lettuce, Swiss Chard and Strawberries. For Herbs I have Rosemary, Thyme, two types of Basil, Chives, Cilantro, Lemon Balm, and Aloe Vera.

    * What are you doing right now to prepare for the growing season?

    Well I'm kinda done now. I bought Scott's potting soil, and Miracle Grow fertilizer for herbs and veggies. I started some plants from seed indoors, but would put them outside, and bring them in at night, when the weather permitted. They are outside full-time now. I do plan to do successive plantings of the green beans for a continuous crop.

    * What are your favorite companion planting combos?

    All I've done right now is place some Marigold plants around the other plants. I've read that Marigold is good for keeping bugs at bay.

    * Any advice you can share with the rest of us?

    Since I'm such a newbie at this, I don't think so, lol. If my container garden is successful I will do more next year. At this point what I've done is purely for my enjoyment and if I can get a few salads out of it and cook with the herbs I'll be happy.


  5. I forgot to mention one place I like to order seeds from :

  6. I am all ears, so keep the tidbits coming ladies! I plan to do some beginner container garden on my far I have decided tomatoes and strawberries and an herb or two.