Updates & Tips

Lacey's Garden – Getting Started Early In Your Garden

Note: I posted this late so it’s not Lacey’s fault – J.

February 9, 2009

Now that I have done everything I can to prep the soil, it is ‘sit and wait’ time.  This is the hardest part for me especially when the weather is pretty like it has been the last few days.  I want to start planting NOW!  But I know I cannot.  There is always a last hurrah thrown at us by winter.  Last year there were frosts at the end of April.  I think I planted tomatoes three times.

There are a few things I can do now.  I have planted an heirloom broccoli seed called ‘Romanesco’ in some cardboard egg cartons I saved for this purpose, so they will be ready for transplanting in March.  Normally I would get my plants from Parks Brothers but they are not carrying heirloom broccoli yet.  Speaking of heirlooms, Parks Brothers has a nice selection of heirloom tomatoes this year and I plan on getting all of my tomatoes from Parks Brothers. Though, I am ordering heirloom cherry tomato seeds from a member of the Seed Savers Exchange which I will save for next year.  (I want to germinate the seeds in the greenhouses so that the plants will be good for transplanting.)

If you have not ever thought about heirloom vegetables give it some thought, heirloom seeds are quickly disappearing from many seed catalogs and seed companies as the focus moves to commercial farming.  Seed companies cannot afford to sell varieties that are purchased in limited quantities by backyard gardeners, so they offer us the same things you see at your local grocery store – vegetables that have been bred for shipping and storage instead of taste and nutrition.  I have begun to save seeds from my heirloom flowers and plan on trying to save seeds from the vegetables I grow this year.  We will just have to see how that goes.

Charley's Vegetables blog

I wasn’t really ready to go live, but Lacey had started sending me all this good information (see her posts below) so I decided to get it out there so that everyone can start getting ready for their spring garden.

The one goal we have for this web site is to tell and show anyone who wants to learn how to prepare, plant, maintain and harvest a successful garden.  Lacey will be sending us posts and pictures on how she does things and here we will be working with Charley himself on our garden complete with video demonstrations.

We hope you come back often and learn a lot.

Lacey's Garden

February 2, 2009

Now is the time for soil preparation particularly if you did not do it in the fall.  For some reason (3 kids, school starting, you name it) I am not able to get the soil prepped in the fall.  I think about it and eventually November and the holidays hit and nothing gets done in the garden.   So, one quick way to get your backyard garden started is lay out where you want to plant the garden.  Layer that area with overlapping newspapers and about 4-6 inches of peat moss and soil mixed together (You can purchase both in 20 – 50 pound bags at your local garden center or home supply store).  By April and May the weeds are gone, the soil is loosened by the earth worms that are attracted to newspaper like a Redneck to his pickup truck!  You now have a lovely little spot to stick some Charlie’s Vegetables and pretty flowers that you purchased at Parks Brothers.

Lacey's Garden

One of the things that should be done now is ordering your seeds for the vegetables that you want to sow before the Last Spring Frost.  There a many plants available at Parks Brothers that you can purchase to plant early, but there are many that are best sown directly into the garden or if you want specialty plants like heirlooms.  Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, cabbage, swiss chard, collards, kale, kohlrabi, peas, spinach, turnips, beets, cauliflower and lettuce are just a few that like to be planted early.  I have ordered many of my seeds from an heirloom specialty catalog online called www.seedsavers.org.  Most of the ones I ordered need to be planted here at the earliest in mid February to the latest the first week of April.  It is all determined by the date of the Last Spring Frost.  Here in Claremore, that date tends to waver from April 1 to April 15 or so.  There are many online sources to get you started on the planning stages of your new spring vegetable garden.  And it is lots of fun to do on yucky, icy winter day.

Lacey's Garden

Lacey is Charley’s daughet and she lives in Claremore, OK.  She will be a guest blogger and sharing with us her how-to’s, tips, problems and solutions about growing a garden full of tasty Charley’s Vegetables.

Here is her first installment:

This past summer I learned of a technique called No-Till Gardening.  It is pretty self explanatory.  It is a method that utilizes the soils own ability to renew itself (think the forest floor).  If given the right materials and time, the flora and fauna in the soil will till it for you.  I needed a way to work the soil in my raised beds that was user friendly.  So I began searching the web.  I ran across this method and had a eureka moment.  The method uses mulch, mulch, and more mulch.  Any and every kind of mulch.  I had some old corn husk hay bales that were decomposing into a lovely black soil, so I broke those apart and spread over both raised beds.  I tried to find every worm that was in them and keep them in the mulch.  This provided many useful things to my raised beds.  Before, the crust of the soil was very hard and dried out quickly; almost immediately after applying the mulch, the soil began to loosen and retained more moisture due to the mulch covering.  I also added table scraps and grass clippings over the course of the summer.  This treatment also ended the takeover attempt by Bermuda grass.  It did not completely control it, but made it much easier to pull up.  And it did lessen the amount of Bermuda that showed up.

Several problems I have since learned about … the first, when things decompose it locks up most of the nitrogen in the soil.  Adding green grass clippings and table scraps caused some nitrogen deficiency problems.  This can be rectified by putting the grass in a compost bin for a few weeks with the table scraps then applying it.  One of the other problems will be this spring when I want to sow seeds directly into the garden.  I will have to brush aside the mulch covering to get to the soil providing a place for the seeds as well as for weeds.  I do not know what will happen.