- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Aren’t these longer days wonderful?
The birds are happy. Each morning, as the dogs and I hit the porch, they serenade us. We all watch the day come to life and thank our lucky starts that we are here to enjoy it.
Then the workday begins
This is the beginning of my busy season and timing is everything. Get the plants ready, get the soil ready, get the fencing and mulch ready, all between showers, cold snaps and my library schedule. Add to that trying to plant by both the signs and the moon and it becomes quite the organizational challenge. Weather is the only uncontrollable factor.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a drier than normal April, May and June, with temperatures a little above normal in April and May. This gives us an easier planting season, since we won’t be dodging so much rain. It also makes it a pretty good bet that we’ll need to be watering this season.
In Arizona, we would flood irrigate. This is a more effective way of watering because it gives the plants a good long drink and lets the soil gradually dry out. The roots go deep. When we use a hose or sprinkler to just give the plants a drink and they tend to keep their roots on the shallow side and then get stressed when they dry out.
Container growing lends itself to flood irrigation and you can grow almost anything in containers. Containers with a depth of 12-18 inches allow you to grow tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, etc., almost anything but corn. One half whiskey barrel can allow you to grow two good size tomato plants with a few carrots thrown in for good measure.
Another half barrel, with a trellis, can be filled with cucumbers and radishes. The cucumbers look quite nice growing up the trellis. Add some lettuce and you have a fresh salad every day. Strawberries also do well in barrels.
Raised beds are another method of growing. The height of the bed depends on you and how far you can bend. I made some out of cinder blocks that almost came to my waist. Of course, I had to climb up on top to reach some of my over-achiever tomatoes.
Most folks use 12-inch wide wooden boards to make the frames for their beds. This gives you plenty of depth for the roots if you loosen the ground before you add your soil in the frame.
A typical raised bed is 6-8 feet long and either 3 or 5 feet wide. You need to be able to reach in from either side, if you go wider than 3 feet. No matter what method you use, most summer vegetables need six to eight hours of sunlight each day.
If you plan on putting your first summer vegetable garden in the ground you need about a 10 foot by 16 foot space. This will feed your family for the summer. Lay out 10-foot rows, with 6 inches between them. When you go shopping for plants make a list.
Buy one seed package each of bush beans, lettuce, greens, carrots and radishes. The rest you can buy as plants in four-packs. One four-pack each of zucchini, tomatoes and peppers will do you for the summer.
Don’t forget to get a flat of marigolds to border the garden. It makes a pretty border and helps keep out the rabbits and other critters. Dusty miller intermixed with the flowers makes an even better and prettier defense.
Doing things by the moon’s phases and signs can be tough, since we have Kentucky weather. You can get a complete chart laid out for all the months for all kinds of activities in the Old Farmer’s Almanac on pages 229-231.
My friend Jeannie wanted to know the best time for laying stones, setting posts and pouring concrete. April 5 and 6 are best. Try to plant or transplant your vegetables in the signs of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces for a more fruitful harvest. When the moon is waxing (getting bigger), put plants in that grow their fruits above ground. Root crops like potatoes and beets do better when planted during a waning (getting smaller) moon.
Now, get out there and sprinkle some lettuce seeds. Those vibrant green leaves grow like weeds and you’ll be picking before you know it.
Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.