Jim’s Garden Adventure 2019 Chapter 1 “A Rag Tag Tell-All”

 

First Things First!

The last of the Malabar Spinach continues to hang on.

I guess I should wrap up the things I did last fall and go from there.  That’s the most logical way to proceed.  Don’t cha think?

I removed my trellises.  Then, I took out all the plants that were on their last legs.

The Malabar Spinach seemed to grow on and on forever!  Last year was a bountiful one for this spinach.The fall tilling is done.

Next came the mowing and bagging of all the weeds that popped up at the end of the growing season.  The garbage collector was gifted with the bags of weeds.  I surely didn’t want them in my compost pile or anywhere near my garden area!

Finally, I got out my trusty electric tiller / cultivator and lightly tilled the soil – to get the ground ready for this year’s cover crop.

 

Cover Crop Planted

I planted a cover crop – using Annual Ryegrass and Austrian Field Peas – 5 pounds of each – equally distributed across my 2,000+ square foot garden – using my Scotts Broadcast Spreader.

Austrian field peas intermingled with ryegrass.

The ryegrass helps keep macronutrients and micronutrients – like the nitrogen and minerals – in the soil – keeping them from leaching out during the winter rains and snows.  The legume – field peas – is a nitrogen fixer adding additional nitrogen to the soil.

Jim's Husqvarna tractor - model YTH18542.

To make sure the cover crop seeds were making good contact with the soil, I ran over them a couple of times with my Husqvarna tractor – and then watered them in well.  It took a solid several weeks for the seeds to begin germinating and for the cover crop to start jumping out of the soil – but, once the grass and field peas got a foothold, they took off like a rocket!

It was an amazing thing to watch over the winter.  While the hardwood trees were without leaves and my lawn was “winter brown”, the cover crop in the garden was as green as my garden is in the summer time!

 

Then Came Spring

I decided to forgo my yearly soil test – to see how well the cover crop protected my garden on its own.  That may not be the best modis operandi, but, I’m always ready to experiment – and try different techniques.

I looked over my 2 feet high cover crop and decided to make two mowing passes with my tractor – the first at the high mow setting – the second at the low mow setting.  This chewed up the ryegrass and field peas – leaving small bits all over my garden plot.

Jim's trusty Gorilla cart trailer.

Then, as an added measure, I knew – from past soil tests – that I needed to add a few bags of lime to lower the soil’s pH – and, some bags of 10-10-10 fertilizer to give the soil an increased benefit of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.  Out came my broadcast spreader – which helped me make short work of it all.

I don’t know what I would do without my Gorilla trailer cart.  Hooking it up to my tractor, I can haul just about everything I need down to the garden all at one time.  It sure takes all (or most) of the work out of lugging tools, equipment, and other garden stuff back and forth!

 

Ready To TillJim's gas tiller made tilling child's play.

Time for the really fun job – tilling the soil to get it ready for plantin’!  That took a full day of hard, sweaty work and a whole bunch of liquid refreshments – even using my high-powered gas tiller!  The gas tiller works much better for spring tilling because, it has the power to chew the soil up deeper and more completely – grinding it into a fine powder.  And, the deeper, the better – to give my plants’ roots more capacity to go deep in their search for nutrients and moisture.

Seeing that churned up dirt just waiting for me to add my veggie seeds and seedlings gave me an incredible rush of satisfaction and enjoyment.

 

Making A Plan

I opened up my Excel spreadsheet – showing my crop rotation from past years – to give me a better clue as to where the veggies need to be growing this year.

Got the garden lined so I know where to plant my veggies.

After sketching out the locations, I was ready to measure off – and line – the garden rows.  Even though I utilize the entire chicken wire fence around my garden, I still like to allow a walking path around it, too.  So, I measured everything based on the row spacing I needed in the different sections.

And, last but not least, I put in my two additional 35 foot long chunks of chicken wire – held in place with T-posts and zip ties – because, that was where I planned on growing my ‘maters.  These are the sturdiest trellises imaginable!

 

Running Late – Gotta Hurry!

Plantin’ time for me is usually sometime in mid-April – after any possibilities of an unexpected cold spell.  I don’t want frosty ole man winter killin’ the seeds that are tryin’ to germinate out there in the garden, do I?

But, this year, I got a late start.  It was already a few days past my normal time to put the seeds in the ground – consequently, it was time to GET BUSY!

Luckily, I was only a week, or so, late – and, now – here it is – the first week of May, 2019, and I’m startin’ to see my little seedlings pushing out of the soil.  Some are already getting’ their second set of leaves.

Slicer cucumbers lookin' good!Take a gander at that okra!Not a bad start for zucchini, huh?

Ummmm - lettuce growing up to be a salad!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Am I Growing?

My “go to” veggies don’t change much from year to year – cucumbers (slicers and picklers), green beans (runners and bush), tomatoes (red, yellow – full-size, grape size – determinate,  indeterminate), corn (super sweet – always), lettuce, mesclun (some sweet, some spicy), zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, okra, edamame, and eggplant.

I do like to try new varieties each year – and, sometimes, add a new one that I haven’t grown in a few years.

All my vegetable selections can be found on the Vegetable Seed Reviews page.

Jim's germination station.

Everything went directly into the ground as seeds – except for my tomatoes, eggplant, and bell peppers – all of which are working their way through my germination station.

The “A” shelf is where the seeds first germinate – sitting on a heating pad – using the low heat setting.  Shelves “B” and “C” are where the seedlings have a chance to grow up a bit before they begin the hardening off process – prior to getting to their outdoor garden home.  I also have grow lights on a lower shelf in case I have an over abundance of seedlings.

Normally I germinate just about everything except for corn and lettuce – but, since I got a late start, I decided to try a few shortcuts that were contrary to my normal gardening approach.

I’m still waiting on my germination seedlings to get to “garden ready” size – but, I should be able to get them in the soil by the end of May at least.

 

And, There You Have It!

A great start to another gardening adventure for yours truly!  Add a comment below or email me – and tell me what you’re growin’ this year!

 

Jim, the Lifelong Gardener

jim@perfect-vegetable-garden.com

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