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Gardening

What I’m Gardening This Week: Mapping Your Garden and April Planting

Last year was our first growing season in our Fixer Upper, so instead of attacking the outdoors and making the backyard what I dreamt it could be, I just sat back and used what we had already. The previous owner obviously loved to garden and landscape, which I appreciate more than the next guy, but didn’t have the large garden beds thatI became accustomed to at our last house. But I paid my dues, used the beds they had, and planted a small crop of veggies in those spaces.

This year, I’m ready for it. I have imagined, planned, plotted, Pinned, and prepared myself for a new set of beds. And with the help of my husband and a rented Rototiller, my dream gardens are going to start coming to fruition!

So to continue my series of What I’m Gardening This Week, I’m going to take you through how I am mapping out my garden this year.

What Are You Going to Grow This Year?

Simple, right? At this point, you may have already started growing your seeds, or you may just be waiting until the frost is over to purchase your veggies from your favorite garden store. Whatever your motive is this year, it’s time to start your formal list.

I didn’t include any of the herbs I’m growing as I plant them separately on my deck and not in my garden beds.

Now that I listed my plants, I did a quick stint of research to see just how far apart I need to plant each one. This can be done by looking at the back of the seed packets I used to see their recommended spacing, or do a Google search. I simply typed in “plant spacing for —— plants,” and the answer popped up immediately.

Reference Your Companion Planting Guides

Two weeks ago, I discussed Companion Planting and the benefit of planting your crops next to others that help them flourish…and avoiding those that can bring disease and dismal harvests.

Now that you have your list of plants your growing this year, begin looking at your Companion Planting charts and find ones that work well together, and especially look for those that can harm one another.

Draw Out Your Spaces

My husband laughs at me at this step and tells me I’m slowly turning into my father. πŸ™‚ BUT I see so many benefits of drawing your boxes, getting the right measurements, and seeing your entire space right in front of you!

  1. Get outside and measure your garden beds.
  2. On one sheet of paper (or posterboard if you’re really attacking it this year!), draw out your garden beds. My beds are not this close together as you see in the picture, but it’s important to be able to see all spaces altogether to visualize how you will separate your space.
  3. Include details in your drawing. Draw in a compass to show where the morning sun will appear. Do you have any areas that are full sun and some that only get morning or afternoon sun? Write that down. This will help you to place crops in areas that will give them the right amount of what they need to flourish.

Begin Your Plan

Now it’s time to start plotting. You have your list of crops, how much space you need to allot, and tips from your Companion Planting charts to help direct you.

Tips to Help You:

  • Consider plants that grow tall. Seems logical, but be sure that your stalks of corn aren’t going to block all the morning sun for your sweet peppers. Plant larger plants in areas that won’t cast shadows on the small ones.
  • Deep rooted crops like potatoes can work very well with early harvesting plants like lettuce and spinach and won’t be bothered when you remove your leafy greens earlier in the season. If you have early season crops, think wisely what you plant directly around them and ensure the roots will not be harmed during harvest.
  • Most vegetables require maximum amount of sun so find areas that are getting upwards of 6-8+ hours of full sun a day.
  • Give yourself space to move among your plants. You’ll need pathways to weed, water, and fertilize throughout the growing season. Plan for pathways in your drawings to allow yourself the room later.

How Are Your Seeds Coming Along?

At this point, you should have your peppers, tomatoes, and most herbs started indoors and growing nicely under your Grow Lights. With the first week of April starting this week, it’s also time to start venturing outdoors to get your cilantro and peas planted!! Woohoo!! Welcome to springtime planting, everyone!

My rectangular planter boxes that I use for my herbs were purchased years ago at Walmart, but I can no longer find in stock. I did find a comparable, adorable planter box at Ikea for just $13!

Cilantro

  • Grows best by directly sowing seeds in your garden – since it develops a taproot, it doesn’t like being transplanted
  • Needs full sun or very light shade
  • Grows best in well-drained moist soil
  • Prepare soil by adding some compost or other organic matter and working it into the soil
  • Sow seeds 1/4″ deep and in rows about 6″ apart
  • Water regularly and feed with a water-soluble fertilizer when they reach about 2″ high
  • As soon as plants develop flowers buds or seedpods, snip them back – this allows the plant’s energy to go back into the leaf and not seed production

Sugar Snap Peas

**As there are many varieties of peas, be sure to check yours for particular growing recommendations**

  • Peas do well with supports – small stakes, trellis, or tower are useful for growing
  • Sow in average soil in full sun
  • Plant 2 inches apart in double rows – 30-36″ between rows
  • Plant about 1″ deep and cover with enriched soil
  • When seeds grow about 1-2″ high, thin out gradually so there are plants about 4-6″ apart
  • Keep plants well watered during dry periods, but be sure not to over water – do not do well in overly wet conditions

Good luck this week! This series continues next week as we plant our potatoes. Let me know how it’s going and how we can help one another!

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