Planting plans, spring 2010

idaho_gardenerJanuary 25, 2010

Time to start the vegetable garden planning.

I did ok with last year's crops. Corn was the standout. The early corn tasted so-so, but the corn planted from mail-order seed was excellent. Potatoes were a success; red, yukon gold, blue. Plenty of tomatoes, but half went to waste. Peppers got a late start but produced heavily late in the season. The muskmelon was a bust last year; poor tasting. Carrots never sprouted, only a few radish. Peas didn't sprout(What's that about?).

I need more diversity this year. More lettuce, spinach. I'll make new beds for corn, potatoes and peas and devote the existing beds to greens. I have enough beds to do a rotation and this year should be a good one for the tomatoes because the next bed for them is the sunniest.

I planted some American chestnut seeds at one end of my yard. That will be an interesting experiment. And I'll be staking my raspberries and allowing the everbearing berries to take over one of the two raspberry beds.

I moved the compost bins to a location nearer to the garden, so it will get lots of attention. And I'm hoping to build a greenhouse this year.

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backyardener(z6 Idaho)

I had no trouble with peas last year, but I also had a carrot problem. I think it was my fault though. After my peas were harvested I planted the area with carrots, but I was a bit careless with the seeds. I kept them in the garage which gets blasted with direct sun and can get very hot.

I had a disappointing potato crop last year, I used some organic fertilizer (Zamzows nutri-rich) and I think that was the problem. I had huge strong plants with small tubers. I think I'm going to stick with only compost for potatoes and skip the fertilizer from now on.

Zucchini was a success after having squash bugs wipe out all my cucurbits the previous two years. I loaded the garden full of nasturtiums and marigolds which are supposed to repel squash bugs - I am hoping that was the difference and not just dumb luck. I plan to plant a lot more cucurbits this year (along with nasturtiums and marigolds) and see if it works again. This is really the only change from what I planted last year.

I'm really looking forward to this year as my fruits should now be mature enough to give me some real yield for the first time. Establishing new fruit trees/vines/bushes requires patience, but is worth the wait. For me, growing fruit is the most rewarding part of gardening.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 12:51PM
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Sounds like the nutri-rich was high nitrogen. I'm going to try planting potatoes in some un-amended clay soil. Well, I'll throw down some sulfur and huma-green just because I have it, but I'm not going to add compost.

It looks like I'll be starting up with chickens this year. I eat a lot of eggs, so that just makes sense.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 8:15PM
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backyardener(z6 Idaho)

The Nutri-Rich is 4-3-3, and I didn't add that much. I should have probably done a soil test to see what I really needed, but I have gardened in that spot for 3 years and all I have really added was a little compost. I thought it could use a little fertilizer. I think my heavy soil holds onto nutrients pretty good.

We need more members here in the Idaho forum...

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 11:45AM
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I'm a fairly inexperienced potato grower. I grew them many years ago and then decided that they were cheap enuf to buy in the stores. (The voles and potato bugs helped me with that decision. ;o)

About 4 years ago, I became jealous of the gardeners growing all the new varieties that were available - so, I started planting them again. I seem to have learned that fertilizer very early was important. And luckily, I didn't have to spray the potato bugs last year . . . except in the eggplants.

Carrot seed takes so long to germinate and it is sown so shallow - there's a real good chance that it will dry out before emerging. Some folks have good luck with placing a board or burlap over the soil surface to retain moisture. That doesn't work too well with me - out of sight, out of mind. I've only discovered the carrot seedlings after the mold had found them first.

A fairly fool-proof technique (and I'm the proof :o), is to buy pelletted seed. Stokes, Johnny's, and Harris carry pelletted carrot seed. The coating holds the moisture against the seed longer.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 1:49PM
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I threw together a hoop house on Friday and Saturday. I placed it partly over a strawberry bed so I'll be getting some early strawberries. Lettuce and similar will be planted there this week.

I have plenty of leftover plastic sheeting so I might put up another to get some potatoes and corn an early start.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 12:51PM
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backyardener(z6 Idaho)

Any updates? It is finally starting to feel like spring here in Boise. I pruned my fruit trees and grapes this week. I noticed a little bit of bud swell, but everything is still pretty dormant.

I dug some delicious parsnips that overwintered from last year, and pulled back the winter mulch (leaves) so that the soil can start to dry out and warm up. Unfortunately all my carrots that were left in the ground are ruined. It just got too cold this year. I'm going to start my peppers this weekend, and probably work on building a few trellises, etc. I'm ready to be done with winter.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 3:24PM
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backyardener, in my hoop house, I have planted lettuce, muclin mix, and carrots. I still have room to plant some things like some early potatoes and maybe a tomato plant.

I dug up some more sod to expand a vegetable garden bed - added about 70 sf to an existing bed using a double-dug technique. It's done, ready to go.

I have onions that need to get planted, and they will probably go into that newly expanded bed.

I am eyeballing the apple trees thinking that they are in desperate need of a pruning. The branches will make an excellent ramial mulch.

I got my seeds started too early last year. I'm trying to hold back so that they are ready go into the ground on May 20 or so. Peppers, tomatoes, muskmelon and watermelon. I will probably set up the grow lamps and get the seed starting mix ready this weekend.

I am hoping to rent a sod cutter to skin about 400 sf of lawn to make new garden beds for corn and potatoes. Corn takes a lot of garden but isn't fussy about the soil. Likewise, potatoes are easy, so I won't bother to put either of them into the organic garden beds that I have worked up.

I planted a blueberry plant to replace one that died. Those are right next to where I planted some American chestnuts in the ground. Hopefully, all the chestnuts sprout and I'll have chestnuts in a couple of years.

And I need to reorganize the strawberry beds and prune the raspberry beds, likely to happen this weekend.

- Paul

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 4:39PM
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backyardener(z6 Idaho)

Wow, sounds like you have been busy. I'd like to be, but I am nearly out of space and my wife will not let me dig out any more of the lawn!

Last year, I started my peppers March 22, and they were very small on May 24 when I planted them. So this year I am going to start them a couple weeks earlier. I also bought a heat mat to help them germinate faster. They still yielded very good, but I'm hoping to have bigger, stronger plants when it comes time to transplant this year. I'm going to wait a while for the rest of the seeds - peppers seem to take the longest to get ready to transplant.

I bought muskmelon and watermelon seeds this year for the first time in a few years (had squash bug problems in the past). How long do you grow them indoors before setting out? In the past, I direct seeded them and I didn't seem to get much of a harvest, but that was also largely due to the bugs.

Be sure to save some apple chips. I use them in the smoker and I bought one of those stainless steel smoker boxes to put in the BBQ grill... YUM!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 5:30PM
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Good tip about the apple chips. I'll have to bag some up.

In years past, I started all of the seeds around the same time in February. I have a windows that faces SSW and starts do Ok there. I'll be using the 6500K bulbs this year to supplement the light. Most of my tomatoes and peppers got off to a slow start last year, so I need to take a little more care this year.

The melons that I direct seeded and started indoors (from Johnny's) were excellent. TH The transplants I bought from Lowe's not so good. I started the melons in mid-March if I'm remember correctly. Too early.

Oh, that reminds me to try to get a melon started in the hoop house.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 5:51PM
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