The Crops are Sowed
Well, most of the crops are sowed at least ...
This year I waited until Mother's Day to transfer my tender veg like tomatoes, peppers and squash to the garden. Last year I transferred plants based on the presumed final frost date, and I had to scramble to cover the plants 3 times for fear of freezing temperatures killing them off during cold nights. Tender veg is not supposed to be transplanted to the garden until night temperatures can be relied on to stay above 55 degrees. Here in Asheville, that would mean I couldn't plant things until the middle of June, or maybe later! I decided the plants could just suck it up and withstand a couple of low 40's nights like we have been having this week. Hopefully next week will bring warmer weather, but you never can tell in the mountains.
The bottom right bed contains peppers, green beans (the bush variety) and four types of squash; two yellow squash and two zucchini. Only four out of sixteen squash seeds that I sowed indoors in March actually germinated, so I had to direct sow the remaining twelve.
One of the yellow crookneck seeds germinated within days of sowing, and by the time I was able to transplant it to the garden, it already had fruit on it! I had to hand pollinate this little guy while it was still in its container hardening off.
The top right bed is the most fertile since it used to be the location of the burn pile. This bed is growing five types of tomatoes and sugar snap peas. We are using grass clippings this year as mulch. I read in Mother Earth News magazine that grass clippings not only act as a mulch to preserve moisture and subdue weeds, but as the clippings break down, they also provide fertilizer to the plants. As a side note, this is a great publication, and I recommend it to everyone, even if you're not a gardener. The magazine contains many interesting and useful articles that can be applied to every day living situations. It's currently my favorite magazine.
The collars around the tomato plants are just paper cups with the bottoms cut out. These collars serve several purposes. First, they help protect against cutworms that will topple young seedlings when they are first transplanted into the garden. And secondly, they help protect the seedlings from harsh winds and extreme temperatures (hot or cold). You should always harden off your plants before transplanting them into the garden, but the paper collars go one step further and add continued protection. I will remove the collars after one week if the plants look sturdy enough. I will also stake the plants when I remove the collars.
The top left bed is growing lettuce, spinach and soybeans. The eggplant will also be transplanted into this bed when they have hardened off.
Soybean seedlings have a really neat succulent-like texture. These soybeans are the type you use to make edamame. Yum!
The bottom left bed is growing corn. You can see that I have sown two and a half rows of corn. I will sow the other two and a half rows in two weeks so we have a longer supply of corn than we did last year. We ran out too early!
In order to help keep our rows of crops straight, we marked the beds at 12" and 6" intervals with a tick and a dot.
We then tied a 9' length of twine to two stakes to create a planting guide. By inserting each stake at the same marker on opposite sides of the bed, we are able to easily measure off our rows and ensure the crops will be planted in a straight line.
You may have noticed the twigs and leaves scattered throughout the garden in the photos. This is the result of the terrible high winds we had Sunday and Monday. The winds were so bad that my stomach ached worrying about all the tender seedlings. They all made it through just fine though. I used a garden cloth pin to loosely stake the large squash plant to the ground since the wind was catching its leaves like a sail and thrashing it from side to side. It's still a little beat up, but I think it will survive!