Monday, February 23, 2009

Spring Planting Time, Sort of

I got my "gamble garden" in today.  I like to plant a few things in late February or early March, partly to feel good that I've started gardening for the season, but also in case it snows a lot and the ground stays too wet to plant for awhile. The plants won't come up until the soil is warm enough, and I'll most likely need to cover them with my green cloth once they are up, and the temps are below freezing. (I'm still hoping to get a cold frame or figure out a hoop house type of thing.) There is a chance they could get killed by the weather, but I've rarely had that happen. I lose more late summer planted crops due to the heat, and not enough moisture.  

These seeds are from 2008. I purchased some on sale at the end of the season, and others were already opened and not full. The spinach is Hybrid Olympia. The name of the radish was torn off last year, but it may be a Cherry Bell. (The writing on the packets was legible in iphoto, but not here. After the spinach is mesclun, Gourmet Greens Mixture, Lolla Rosa lettuce, Nero Toscana kale, and the last lettuce is Black Seeded Simpson.) 

Here's the area before I started working. The soil was loose enough that I didn't have to turn it over. I applied compost in the fall, and it's in a sunnier spot than most of the garden, so it was ready to go.

I have tried different types of rows, and broadcasting, but this year, I saw something similar to this "circle" in a magazine, and decided to try it. I have radishes in some of the rows, and they will come out earlier than the other plants, making more room for them, and for me to pick the greens.

I used to measure planting depth and space between rows in order to follow the directions on the seed packets, but now I eyeball it, and figure I'll thin enough to give everything room to grow.  

Since the seeds are from last year, I planted them closer together than what the package says, as the germination rate may be lower. Plus, I like to eat the thinnings.

I am a pretty laid back gardener. I don't aim for perfection. It's OK if some of the seeds don't stay in their rows as I put the dirt over the seeds.

I have used other things, such as boards, but these days, since I am already using my hoe when I plant, I just use it to tamp down the soil to get a connection between the soil and the seeds. If it was later in the season, I would water the seeds in, but I don't this time of year.

I decided to loosen the soil in the next section, in hopes that the neighborhood cats and squirrels will dig there instead of the newly planted area. I have had to replant due to critters. We'll see. They'll probably just have fun in both sections. I am persistent enough to get a crop, though.

Please bear with me if this was way too detailed. I am realizing there are some beginning gardeners who can benefit from seeing how an old gardener does things, even if they are a bit unconventional. I just hope no one follows my way of doing it, with bad results.


  1. Hope your 'gamble garden' produces some payoff!! I think any way is a good way if you get results you were hoping for. Even if you don't, at least you experimented with an idea!

    I really hope the cats don't bother it. There's a leash law where I applies to cats, as well.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Jan,
    We have a leash law, too, but it doesn't get enforced. The family whose cats were in my garden the most have moved, so hopefully the other cats won't claim the territory.

  3. I like that you call it your gamble garden. Hopefully it'll pay off big :) I think the circular method looks really nice. Good luck!!

  4. I also like this circular method, thanks for showing! Will wait for summer pictures!

  5. Susan,

    Not too much detail for me! I love to read how others are doing things- it is always inspiring. I really like your unconventional approach to gardening :). Can't wait to see how the gamble turns out- it is always a good idea to do a test crop, you never know what you might be eating a lot earlier!

  6. No apology necessary. It's a joy to read your posts. I love your idea and can't wait to see the results. And I love the moniker, "Gamble Garden."

  7. How is this possible? Your gardening zone is comparable to Michigan's isn't it? Most vegetable gardens around here go in around April. By the way, I really like the circle design, it's something I'd like to give a try.

  8. Gamble Garden is a great phrase. I must use that! I really like the circle garden, too. I've seen those recommended for gardening with children. But then it's called a pizza garden. I actually started my herbs in this shape, in a container, not the ground. OK, I've rambled on enough. Great post. Hope the cats stay away!

  9. Your gamble garden is so exciting to see . Still frozen here. I like the circle concept.
    I think any details are good even for this older gardener.

  10. I like the way you did your rows. I might try that with some flowers.

  11. That'll look great when the salads all start to come through. Looking forward to seeing it grow!

  12. Hi Everyone! Thanks for the comments.

    Catherine. Like I said, it's the only gambling I do, and I forgot to mention I've been doing it for over 30 years. Once the middle of February gets here, as soon as the soil can be worked, I'm out there!

    Tatyana,I am excited to see how I like the circle once the plants start growing, too. In a few weeks, I may just plant another circle! I noticed that the magazine article also shows rows actually going around in a circle. I just wonder how you pick the plants that way.

    Tessa and Grace, I think I post more pictures than most, but it's what I love to do, so next time, I won't apologize. :o) I'm glad you like to read my posts.

    Jill, we are zone 5b. I'm not sure what zone you are in. I don't know how soon people around here plant things, but some years I find out others have planted before I did, and they are growing. Other years, my seeds just hang out until the soil warms up. I don't plant tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, etc. until the end of April or early May.

    Gardeness, I like the name, "pizza garden". Maybe we could put a tomato plant in the middle instead of a stone. (I forgot to mention I was planning on putting something else in the center.) I'd like to see a pic of your herbs in a circle in a container. Now, you're sounding like me, saying you've rambled. Rambling is encouraged here! If I can do it, those who leave comments are welcome to as well!

    Rosemary, I'll post more on how I like the circle, so by the time you plant, you can see what my opinion was.

    Darla, I'll be watching your blog to see if you tried planting in a circle.

    Linda, I am excited for the time when the seedlings peek up. The radishes will be first. I need to get back over to see what you are doing at your allotment. I am behind in my blog reading.


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