March 19, 2009: Finally! I Get Outside to Garden.

Finally! Two lovely days in a row, which allowed me to get outside and begin the 2009 gardening year for real!

Yesterday I cleaned out and prepped four of the five 4x4 gardens (#5 still has 2008 carrots and spinach to be harvested), the 4x3 which will eventually be the potato bed, and two of the three 4x8 beds. There were no weeds to be found in the small beds, so all I did was loosen the soil with a hand cultivator and rake them level. The larger beds had never been planted, and there were a few healthy weeds in them, so they should be good to grow this year. The weeds took less than five minutes to pull from the loose compost that fills the beds.

I planted 4 Canby raspberries and 21 Tristar (day neutral) strawberries. I got shortchanged on the strawberries, as there were supposed to be 25 in the bunch (they were bare root) but there were only 21. To make it even, I put 20 in the 4x8 bed, spacing them 12" apart in all directions, and stuck the spare in with a blueberry bush. I'll let each plant put out one runner this year, which will help fill in the bed. In the 12 squares that were left in the strawberry bed, I planted 60 super Sweet onion sets and 53 yellow onion sets...don't ask me how it came out at 53!

All three pansies in the blue planter are growing, and the clematis is showing some green, so it must be spring!

In the evening, I made 4 seed mats, four varieties of carrots on 12”x12” sheets of newspaper, using Elmer’s Glue. Each mat contains 84 seeds for a total of 336. Once these dried, I set them aside for next day planting.

It was really easy to put a dab of glue every inch and then drop a seed into it. It didn't take long at all to fill the sheet of newspaper with 84 seeds.

Today I spread four bags (4 cf) of manure blend on the two pea beds and dug it in, then I planted 1 pkt. Alderman peas and 1 pkt. Super Sugar Snap peas. To plant the peas I open a trench about 4" deep and scatter the peas very closely in the bottom...I crowd them in pretty tightly, some even touching. Then I cover them with about an inch of soil and firm them in with the back of the rake. As they grow, and as the weather warms, I will continue to gradually fill the trench with soil. The Alderman (Tall Telephone) peas have a six-foot high chain link fence to climb. The Super Sugar Snap peas only have a 2' high wire fence, so some type of trellis will have to be added as they grow.

I also planted two 8-foot rows of spinach on 2” spacing along one edge of the raspberry bed. This will be harvested long before the raspberries need the room, and I will use the small thinnings for salads. I then planted the four carrot seed mats (336 seeds) and 52 beets in one 4x4 bed, leaving room in the center for three of the cabbage plants I have growing in the garage. Here is how I planted the carrot mats (this is an experiment...let's hope it works!)

First I leveled and wet down the soil and laid out the paper seed mats. There is one variety to each square, and I placed them in alphabetical order so as not to forget which was which.

Then I carefully sifted a layer of soil over the top. I think I got it a bit deeper than the 1/4" it should be, but I needed to cover the entire surface of the paper.

I then covered the entire area with boards. This is how I've started my carrots for years, as the boards keep the little seeds from drying out. It is very important to start checking for growth in a few days, as the boards must be removed as soon as the carrots begin sprouting.

My work isn't done for the week, so I hope the weather stays nice for just one more day. I have to buy and plant my seed potatoes, and plant the two new blueberry bushes I purchased today.

I had planned on turning the five 4x4 beds into one long 22' bed, but found I'd built them too well! Rather than take the chance of completely destroying them, I'll simply put some containers between the beds to hold the overflow. If all my peppers sprout, I'll definitely need extra space for them!

Happy gardening!


  1. Granny,

    I have to go take a nap now... wow girl you were busy today. Can't wait to see more photos.


  2. You have been busy. I was going to plant some lettuce, spinach & radish outside today but was confronted with 30f weather so it will be postponed. Looks like it will warm up again this weekend so maybe then.

    I am expanding this season as well and have the same problem of filling in the voids. I am just going to patch them into the existing beds without disturbing them. Pots work well to though, raised beds are basically a big pot anyway.

  3. Good for you, granny! That's really interesting how you do your carrots. I've never heard of that before. You're weird....ha!


  4. Liisa, more photos will be coming soon. My yard is in such a mess from our being gone all winter that I refuse to take any photos until everything is cleaned up!

  5. Dan, I forgot to plant my radishes today, so I'll do them permitting.

    I still might buy lumber and patch in those pathways. I think that would be easier in the long run than trying to find a bunch of containers that are big enough.

  6. EG, the board trick is one I learned from Crockett's Victory Garden, and it has always worked well for me. The newspaper seed mats, however, are weird ;-) I hope they work. NO THINNING!!!

  7. You've been a busy girl. Looks like you've got your strawberries. If there's something else you want, just let me know.

  8. Cheryl, it's been a few years since I've bought strawberries, so I was shocked at having to pay $8.99 for a bundle of 25 (which was only 21). If they had been less expensive, I'd have bought more...but they will have babies and fill in in time. I also got a bit of sticker shock at $10 each for my two blueberries, but I think my old plants have passed their prime, so it's time to bite the bullet and replace them. Or at least move them to a corner, prune them way back and see if they renew themselves.

  9. How wonderful to have the first seeds planted in your garden. I'm curious to see if the newspaper works. I've seen thing like this before, but have always been afraid of trying them. I can never believe that the little seedlings can get through the paper. But then carrots take a long time to germinate and paper breaks down pretty quickly in wet environments. Maybe I'll try the toilet paper ones. They always seem like they would break down faster. I've used the board trick in the past, learned from the same book. Last year though I tried burlap. I'm not sure which one was better. I should do a side by side comparison.

  10. Daphne, I'm apprehensive about the newspaper. I tried it last year with lettuce seed, and it was less than successful, but I glued carrot seeds to one side of Puffs Plus tissue and that worked great...except the glue seeped through and it was really messy (see for photos and notes). I'm thinking cheap paper napkins might work better.

  11. Isn't it great to get out and garden - The weather has finally been nice the last few days. :)Wow, you got a lot done! I'm looking forward to seeing more pictures.


  12. Connie, isn't this weather wonderful? It's supposed to rain tomorrow, so I'll get my potatoes planted today. The extended forecast has temps in the 70s from the 27th on, with nights in the 40s. I hope it's correct.

  13. Wow! You're sure productive! I'll be interested to see how the carrots turn out - pretty cool looking trick. Hope it works! (I love that you put them in alphabetical order too - lolz)

  14. Oh, Jenn...I hope it works, too! I really hate thinning carrots, it's much easier gluing them to sheets of paper!