Yesterday marked the beginning of this year’s garden. Two trays of Copra onions and one of King Richard and Lexton leeks planted! I ought to be shouting it from the rooftops though my joy is a little bit diminished because; (1) We’re behind schedule already and (2) We’re behind because we don’t have enough space to start all the starts we want to start!
While the physical garden space remains the same this season, I did take much time to plan planting dates and harvest dates for each of the thirty-three rows so that we yield more per row this year. Pretty much, I want to harvest two to three separate crops from each row, keeping supplies of things like beets and greens more consistent and turning over the rows to new crops immediately. For the visual learner (like myself), here’s a photo of the master plan (not to scale). You’ll see the bee hives at the top left corner and each row marked off and numbered.
Each row is roughly four feet wide by twenty five feet long. On each row, I have written the date for transplant or direct seed for the first, second, and occasionally third planting. As lovely as it all seems (I may have impressed even myself with this abnormal level of organization), simply put, we lack the indoor growing space to start all the wee plants I’ll need to carry out this garden.
I don’t mean to sound so dramatic, we’ve got a few options but nothing has solidified yet (read: I just need a greenhouse!). We have a small coldframe that sits right outside our window, which fits a good dozen or so trays. Last night, we put the sensor for an inside/outside thermometer in the coldframe and it got down to 33 degrees. This morning it’s up to 86 by 10:00am! In a couple weeks, it might be warm enough to keep little plants going unheated, but it’s definitely not warm enough (at night) to germinate them out there. That leaves us with putting up tables in our *bedroom* where it is toasty all night long (bedroom being a loose term for our studio style apartment space) for germination. All is not lost, as we grew quite a successful garden last year with the same set up, and there are a couple of other options open. We’ve a farmer friend that may have some space in a greenhouse and we’re still looking at the Johnny’s catalog for possibly putting up a high tunnel (though it wouldn’t be heated and vented and thus still problems). The third option is to build a couple more small cold frames with the heat mats in the bottom to coast them through the colder nights.
P.S. The bees are still hanging in there! Here’s a shot from last week when it hit 55 degrees and they came out for a bit. When I first looked, there were maybe a dozen out but by the time I grabbed a camera and the sun disappeared behind the clouds, they headed inside. February is typically when we’ve lost hives in the past, though March can be equally as challenging. The warmer it gets, the more active they are. It’s too early for spring blossoms for foraging so they are still depending on their reserves from last fall to get them through.