Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's Mid-April: What Else Do I Plant?

This weekend, I paid a visit to Home Depot because they had a Gardening class at 1:00pm.  When I arrived with my two little girls, I was shocked to find the teacher ratio was 1:1!!  I was the only one there!  Needless to say, I took advantage of this and fired a barrage of questions at the instructor, whose name was Sandra.  Poor lady.  She never knew what she was in for.  How do you rotate your crops?  What are the best edibles to plant in the shade and which are best in full sun?  How do you maximize produce?  Can you plant on the same rows?  Which herbs are best within the garden?  Why...What...When...?   In the end, I had gathered quite a bit of information but I think I exhausted the woman.  Nonetheless, according to Sandra, here are some of my takeaways:

1)  For a heavy producing garden, plant heavily in the Peppers group.   Bell peppers, Jalapeno peppers and Banana peppers were my preferences.

2) For heavier produce, put all Tomatoes and Squash in full sun and add Eggplant to that mix. 

3) Watering for a garden has to be extremely regular because, like the human body adjusts to skipping breakfast, a plant will adjust to less water.  If you suddenly began watering again, you can actually drown the plant!  On the flip side, a plant which is regularly watered can more freely produce an abundance of fruit or vegetables. 

4) There are various kinds of Eco friendly bug sprays and rapid grow sprays which are a must in this climate.  Box beetles and leaf pests have grown in number in recent years and they can quickly kill a garden. 

5) I didn't get full answers on rotating crops, but what I did gather is that you don't want to plant things that give low produce like cabbage or Corn.  Some of these crops take months to produce little.  However, it is important to keep in mind that my options are going to be limited in Winter and "cold weather crops" are low producing anyway.  Cucumbers, Beans and Black Eyed Peas are the crops that keep on giving. 

6) Grass is as much of an asset in gardening as are my gardening beds.  The grass is the most rapid feeder to my compost pile.  Whereas leaves and wood breakdown after a while, grass breaks down and composts quickly.  One of the best things you can do is buy chickens and put them in the chicken tractor.  This actually helps your grass grow faster. 

7) Sandra introduced me to a couple of herbs which make a great addition to our herb collection (we have been pretty staple with having your standard Cilantro, Basil and Rosemary plants here and there).  Lemon Thyme has an excellent taste with a nice kick and Stevia is a conversation piece because of its sugar alternative press. 

Needless to say, I walked out of Home Depot with Tomato plants, Herbs, Squash, Peppers and Eggplant.  Christy, my wife, later picked up, among other things, a Blueberry Bush and a healthy Strawberry plant.

On a side note, I noticed yesterday that the frontrunner in my recent plantings is a surprise:  My Sunflowers just came shooting out of the ground!  Wow.  I don't know if this continues, but they are very quick.

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