Did you notice that Fred Meyer has their seeds 50% off this week?! With sales like that it is time to start thinking about the summer garden.
Usually I would just get seeds for whatever I want. I'd get old favorites like sweet 100 tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, yellow summer squash and peas. Then I'd grab a few new items like patty-pan squash or leeks. However this year I have to be a little more thoughtful about my planning because of the Dream Vacation we'll be taking this summer. Whatever I plant will have to survive a month without my personal care and loving devotion.
We will have a house sitter and of course I'll have my drip systems, hoses and sprinklers on timers. I'll have plenty of mulch over the garden beds--I've been thinking about using straw mulch this year--so the weeds shouldn't go too crazy while I'm gone. The real worry of planning this garden is not that it will be neglected for a month, I've got that taken care of. The real worry is that I don't want to have everything ripen while I'm gone!
My planning this year therefore consists of carefully planning harvest dates. I will plant based on two harvest dates: Spring-before June 28th, that will give me some time to harvest and preserve my crops before leaving town; and Summer-after August 8th, which will give me some time to get home and wash some clothes and buy some groceries before having to rush out to the garden. I used this planting and harvest calendar to help me determine what to do and when.
My spring garden will have: peas, spinach, lettuce, swiss chard, scallions, radishes, and kale. I will only do a few plants of chard and kale and will do lots of peas. I will plant these all within the next few weeks and cover them with a plastic tunnel greenhouse like I did last year. Obviously this year I am planting earlier--we have had an early spring--this should be to my advantage.
My summer garden will have:tomatoes, artichokes, potatoes, onions, beans, brocolli, cabbage, carrots, corn, cucumbers, peppers, summer squash, winter squash (including pumpkins) and garlic. These will all be planted at different times depending on their growth rate. The onions and garlic are already in the ground planted last fall as is the artichoke (if it comes back--it is a finicky perennial). The potatoes will be planted on St Patricks day and the brocolli and carrots will go in soon thereafter. By the first week of April I will plant the tomatoes and peppers under a cloche or "mini-greenhouse", as I did last year , the results were incredible! After the 15th of May the corn will go in. At the beginning of June I'll finish off my plantings by putting out my cucumbers and squashes after harvesting the majority of the peas and other spring crops.
I've also got berries, fruits and herbs in the garden. They are perennial and I will sadly not be able to control their harvest dates. I can only hope that I get a good crop of rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries before I leave town and that my basil, mint, cilantro, parsley and oregano don't go to seed whilst I am away. The grapes and tree fruits will of course take until August to ripen anyways, except for the peaches. My housesitter may get fresh peaches to go along with the blueberries that will be ripening in July while we are away.
Anybody want to house sit?