Starting the Spring Garden

by Daisy

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It’s raining today, a good excuse to stay inside and write.

We probably needed this rain. I’ve planted carrots and beets and so of course the top surface of the soil needs to stay moist until they’ve germinated and sent down long roots. I’ve been watering them with rain barrel water carried in a watering can, but it’s no substitute for the deep drenching of a real rain.

Also planted out the potatoes I’ve been sprouting/chitting since January in my mom’s guest room closet. She keeps her house warmer than we do so it was an ideal place to get them started.

I usually buy tomato plants, but this year I succumbed to the siren song of raising them from seed. I have started Paul Robeson (dark, smokey flavor), Opalka Paste (tasty, thin-skinned), Mountain Magic (hybrid bred for heirloom flavor with strong late-blight resistance) and De Barao (paste, early).
If they survive my bad luck with tomato starts, I don’t know where I will put them all.

Going a little crazy with the herbs, too. On the windowsill I’m starting licorice, blessed thistle, lemon balm and lemongrass, skullcap, and wild bergamot. Don’t ask where I’m going to put all that, either, especially considering the herbs I’m starting inside are only a fraction of the total number of herbs I plan to direct-seed, which include Lady’s mantle, arnica, rue, and a garden’s worth of Chinese traditional medicinals.

I have no sense of when to stop. All this must fit in between the cracks of my vegetable garden, which, no surprise, is also more ambitious than last year.

And did I mention the two pomegranate trees and kiwi vines I added?


So, while I’m going new plant crazy, Deanna has been re-tooling our sidebar a bit. She’s added some new “frequently visited posts” to help with navigation. If you have some recipes, etc. you search for frequently, feel free to suggest them for the sidebar listing.

Also feel free to confess your overstuffed garden plans so I don’t feel like the only one.


Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny L. March 5, 2013 at 11:35 am

I am guilty!
I had one plot in the Community Garden 2 years ago–now I have three in addition to things tucked away here and there in my flower beds. I have a window sill filled with herbs, “regrowing” celery and green onion. I even planted a few radishes in my window pots to see if it could be done.
Happy spring!

Jill March 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Whew! you sound like I was a few years ago…..i have a mini greenhouse in a spare room equipped with flourescent plant lights…currently,sugar baby watermelons, tomatos, green peppers, broccoli, cukes, basil, corn, and sunflowers. I’m in zone 5 here so have to start early for short growing season…. 🙂

Paula March 6, 2013 at 5:55 am

Such good timing for your post ~ I was just wandering in the yard yesterday thinking it’s about-that-time. To start planning for the garden! First time planting garlic this past fall so very anxious to see how that goes. And first planting of rhubarb last year…hoping they made it through the winter. It’s good to be thinking gardens. 🙂

Jess March 6, 2013 at 7:40 am

This is going to be mine and my husbands second year in our house, so on the top of my list was the garden. My husband loves peppers and asked for some space in there, I gave him enough room for 9 plants (I use them for canning chilli sauce too). He took my seed catalogue and his own. We now have 13 varieties of peppers started in the house. In our garden, not including the peppers we have 20 different plants, and this is on top of the berries and grapes not in the fenced in garden area.

tlocke March 9, 2013 at 4:24 am

I love working in my yard but, have a job away from home. When I plant a garden it is hard for me to get caught up with it when I am home. Suggestions on how to plant it and keep it weed free.

Barbara March 9, 2013 at 6:08 am

You might want to keep that lemon balm in a pot as it will spread far and wide! I volunteer with a community beautification group ( and one of our projects is a colonial herb garden. We are constantly weeding out the lemon balm…and fennel! Your gardens sound wonderful. Wish I had the space for more than our 9×11 raised beds! Thanks for all the great information you provide!

julie March 9, 2013 at 7:07 am

It’s a seed planting frenzy here on Cape Cod…’s all my girlfriends and I have been talking about for the last 2 weeks! With all the dreery weather and snow,it is a form of therapy for the winter blues-I will begin planting tomorrow after church-We are a zone 7a and have been known to have a frost as late as May…some years yes some years no.. so smart gardeners when they start seeds plant double-Get them in the garden late in April and pray for no frost-but if it does come and kill them off you have others waiting!And its nice to have your garden fresh toms in July as apposed to Aug! I am blessed with a large greenhouse but it is not heated…but it is on the honey-to-do list for “someday when we have the extra cash” haha! Enjoy your weekend everyone….
p/s i LOVE this website!!!

Lori March 9, 2013 at 9:27 am

You are definitely not the only one. I put together a little light stand in my laundry room and apparently that is what it takes to send me over the edge starting seeds. Last year I just used my window sill but I wasn’t happy with the leggy starts I got. I have dozens of plants started. It’s a sickness.

Lisa March 10, 2013 at 12:11 am

Last year I bought my tomatoes (5) and peppers (3), but like you, heard the call to start from seed. Last year I tried growing some other vegetables from seed, and it didn’t work well. I have no idea why I am doing it again, in fact, last year I swore never to again! But, I built a grow light shelf and all.
Today I planted 10 Wonder Bells, and a total of 30 tomatoes! Ace, Yellow and Red Brandywine (I LOVE Yellow Brandywine!), Yellow Pear, Sungold, Mortgage Lifter, and Super Sweet 100. I do not have that much garden space! I did promise my neighbor one Ace.
I am going to start my own Lemon cucumbers too. They failed last year, and I bought more from a high school FFA sale.
I usually put the tomatoes and peppers in large pots, but I ended up using them all for some free boysenberry starts I was given.

Ellen Peavey March 10, 2013 at 6:13 am

This year tried something different, took 12 milk jugs and cut them in half leaving the handle. Then I put 12 holes in the bottom and got the seed starting soil wet it really good let it drain, started with tomato’s have about 60 little tomato’s. Yellow Pear, Roma,Red Reins., and Ox Heart Tomato’s. I didn’t stop then it was the peppers sweet banana, Grand Bell Pepper, Pepperoncini, California Red Sweet pepper, Jimmy Nardello, jalapeno. Next cucumbers Lemon and straight cucumber, I have 2 Butternut squash that survived and some Kolarbi and giant leeks. Needless to say I went over board, I live in North East Georgia we will be putting all the plants out the first week in April. We have a big area for the garden and I have 9 raised beds to work with, I’m retired now so gardening is my passion. Everyday that the sun shines I move all the trays to the little greenhouse and the plastic totes to the back deck, it is a very good form of exercise. I can’t wait to start digging in the dirt next Sunday when we plant the potato’s, always on March 17th a good day for potato’s to go into the ground.
Ellen from Gerogia

Daisy March 10, 2013 at 6:45 am

Ellen Peavey–That is inspiring. You are going to have vegetables for the whole neighborhood!

Daisy March 10, 2013 at 6:46 am

Lisa–Isn’t it funny, we vow we won’t, but we try again, if not next year, the year after that. There are just so many great varieties in seed you can’t get at the nursery.

Ellen Peavey March 10, 2013 at 11:39 am

Daisy we live out in the country and have four acres two are in tree’s, I retired two years ago and have always wanted to have a big garden. This year the garden will be bigger then last year, we do lots of canning and freezing and pickling and making salsa. Lat year I had too many hot peppers about 20 plants, so this year going for the sweet peppers going to make plenty of pickles also. I’m going to give two rows of vegetables to the local food bank here, I also take my extra eggs to the food bank. I want to pay it forward when I can, my friend gave me a huge envelope of heirloom seeds so I have been swapping and giving them away. Ellen from Georgia

Daisy March 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Ellen–Lovely. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone who could, would do just that?

Ellen Peavey March 11, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Daisy it sure would and it isn’t hard or expensive to pay it forward, it will cost you one stamp and an envelope and of course your time. Plenty of sites on face book for gardens and growing your own food and seed swapping and giving seeds to first time gardeners. Just get on face book and look. Ellen from Georgia

Michelle H March 15, 2013 at 9:57 am

Actually.. I am cutting back this year.. we got alot of veggies left over from last year so I know we need to plant less..

Suzie March 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm

I envy all of you with your knowledge and green thumbs!! I WANT to grow stuff.
I cared for my friend’s garden when she was out of town last summer for two weeks. I SO enjoyed it! Watering and cultivating and picking and cutting things up and freezing and cooking with fresh vegetables was so much fun! I want to grow them myself this summer! I did keep the seeds from her peppers. I think I will try to start them and I think I will take the idea about the half milk jugs to try tomatos. I also did keep herbs going all summer….basil, lavendar and rosemary. The basil kept the flies from coming inside my house all summer! Give me some easy starter hints for a small garden please. I have horses so the manure would be good, but I hardly know where to start. Tell me beginner tools, keeping weeds down naturally etc. Dirt types, manure ratios and anything else. I am a book to write on!Thank you!!

Daisy March 20, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Suzie–You’re on the right track! Try building a small raised bed. You can use one of several methods (love these ideas) It doesn’t have to be the full size. Use the lasagna method to build up the soil. Here’s one take:
Then, plant a few of your favorite, easy-to-grow veg and herbs (ask at the local nursery what they recommend for the beginner in your area). Give it an inch of water at least once a week when it doesn’t rain. Learn from your mistakes and have an even better garden next year! Let me know what you decide and how it turns out!

Suzie March 21, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Thank You Daisy!!! That is exactly where I will start!!

Suzie April 7, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Dear Daisy et al;
Thank you for your suggestions for a beginning gardener. I purchased a raised Cedar garden bed from Home Depot as it was on a great sale this weekend! I have not yet put it together! Instead, I hoed, raked, hauled horse manure, and generally worked my patootie off setting up the beds in the front of my house! Too bad I have NO MONEY left to purchase shrubbery! Instead, I will plant my “garden” in the front of my house……its too rich not to do SOMETHING with it. So, this summer, it will be my vegetable garden. Do I care if neighbors will laugh??? NO!!!
My raised Cedar bed will be my herb garden,. Have already potted Basil, Lavendar, Rosemary. Also, fashioned my own upside down hanging tomato plants from milk jugs. Also, took cuttings from azaela bushes and from dogwood trees, used rooting powder and good Miracle-Gro Garden soil and have potted. I do hope they will grow roots and that I can transplant in 6-8 weeks. Have I mentioned yet that I am exhausted, achy, but OH SO satisfied!!! Thanks all for your encouragement and tell me some of YOUR stories as to how you became gardeners!? Am I crazy to be bit by this bug at 55 years old?? Any suggestions as to be successful?? Thank you!!

Sara May 24, 2013 at 5:53 pm

I have what I call ‘eyes too big for my garden’. Last year, my very first year doing more than a tomato and summer squash, I had so many things! Corn, beans, yellow squash, at least 4 different heirloom tomatoes (10 plants), 3 other tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, green beans, yellow beans, watermelon, mushmellon, cabbage (three types), peas, snow peas, thyme, basil, lemon basil, marjoriam, rosemary, onions, garlic chives, and regular chives. Along with lots of flowers. We lost the beans and peas to the rabbits, everything else did really well.

This year I am in charge of the flower beds my Church. So -naturally I decided to start flower seeds inside. I started over 1000 seeds! Along with my tomato and summer squash plants. I didn’t realize how long it would take or how much space it would take to transplant so many seedlings. My garden this year already contains peas and snow peas (invested in some rabbit wire to keep the bunnies out) carrots, potatoes, radishes, onions, corn, beans, and several herbs. I still need to plant more corn, cabbage, tomatoes (several different varieties again), water mellon, green peppers, and more potatoes. I haven’t found any cabbage this year, but if I do I will plant these as well. New this year are the potatoes, radishes, and carrots, not making a return are the hot peppers.

Why start small when you can go big! Plus I found I really love planting and watching things grow.

Daisy May 24, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Sara–You have a common malady. The only cure is to plant more seeds. “Hair of the dog” and all that. It’s terminal but it won’t kill you.

Liz May 12, 2014 at 8:18 am

Nice post! I love other people’s perspective on starting their garden every year! I live in an apartment, so it’s hard to plant a lot.

Here are some other good tips for spring gardening.

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