Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The First Planting

On Monday the soil was finally unfrozen in some of the beds. I couldn't get the peas in as that one was still frozen, but a few of the beds were ready.

Carrot bed

Bed 2W was the first one. It is the spring carrot bed. So I did a light fertilization. My soil test said I didn't need anything except nitrogen, and carrots don't need much of that. I don't turn over my soil, but I do aerate it. The aeration process mixes in the fertilizer a bit. I don't have a fancy broadfork, I just use a traditional garden fork. A quick raking gets it smooth. Then I measure out shallow furrows 4" apart across the bed. I try to put the seed about 2" apart in the furrows, but I'm not very good at doing it perfectly. I'll have a lot of thinning to do once they are up.

Carrots have issues germinating if they dry out at all. Plus they can take up to three weeks in the early spring because it is so cold. So I cover them with a double layer of Agribon. This keeps the soil moist. It also keeps the soil in place when we get heavy rains, so the seed doesn't wash away. I'll be watering this once a day on days that we don't get rain.

Next up was the spinach, which I do in rows 6" apart. In previous years I'd sow the seed about 2" apart and thin to about 6". Germination can be a bit erratic, but I usually get a decent stand. I bought seed for two beds - the spring planted bed and the over wintered bed. But I wanted to expand that to four beds with three spring planted beds. I was a bit worried about having enough seed. So I spaced them farther apart. Then I went and bought another packet.

The carrot bed had this little guy in it and a couple friends. I was surprised the soil was warm enough for any to come to the surface. But there weren't any in the spinach bed. In fact when I first started to aerate the soil I thought the soil was very compact at the bottom. I didn't think it was frozen since ice is hard as a rock, but it turns out that it was almost unfrozen. It still had ice crystals in it. I planted it up anyway. I've found that spinach will germinate in really cold soil. And the top inch where the seed sits can get reasonably warm during sunny days.

It was so nice to get my hands dirty for the first time. And Monday was a beautiful day. It was about 50F (10C) and sunny. A perfect spring day for my first planting.


  1. How long has it been since you last got your hands dirty in the garden? It seems like such a long time.

  2. Your soil looks really nice & workable, especially considering it had a mound of snow on it not that long ago. Can't wait to get my hands dirty too...later this week, if I'm lucky.

  3. After a long wait, you have got "stuck in " quickly and comprehensively! I can't help admiring the potential in all those big empty beds! (Well, formerly empty...)

  4. I'll bet it felt good to work in the soil. I'm anxious to get my carrots in but the soil is still too soupy to work with.

  5. How nice to be able to get out and planting. I hope your seeds germinate well and quickly.

  6. So nice to see you working the garden beds, can't wait to see the seedlings poking up their heads :)

  7. Nice to see you getting a start on the season. The only dirt under my fingernails is potting mix.

  8. If been looking at the pic of your bed
    ...they seem a little closer together than comfortable. Don't you find them a little constrictive for moving between beds? Also each bed seems too wide for easy access.

    1. They are 19" apart which is indeed very close. I had a choice to put in 8 beds with that spacing or 7 beds with 27" apart. I chose to have that extra bed but have the paths be constrictive. That is 75 pounds of extra vegetables a year. I think it is worth it. If I had more space in the yard I'd probably put them at least 2' apart which is what my last garden had. Another positive is that there is less weeding. It is a trade off.

      The beds themselves are 4' wide. I can reach the middle of the bed, but I have to use my abs to hold myself up (no gym workout needed!). 3' would make it easy. But I can reach the middle. 3' beds would also require more paths, which would give me even less growing space. All these decisions were made because of my small yard. If I had to chose the perfect width for me, it would probably be 3 1/2 feet, which would be just narrow enough that I wouldn't have to work hard for the middle row.