‘harvesting’ perennials, planting vegetables

vegetable-beds-preppedTHE ANNUAL VEGETABLE-GARDEN ARCHAEOLOGICAL DIG yielded the usual suspects—perennials and small shrubs I plunge in there for wintertime storage, things I use in summer pots: huge hosta clumps (I do love hostas) and Hakonechloa and other random bits. In went 3 inches of compost, 10 pounds of lime per 100 square feet, an all-natural organic fertilizer made of meals and manures, seeds for short rows of various salad greens, and a few-dozen onion plants. Life is good, loaded with possibility. (Well, except that I could use some rain.) Unearthed anything good lately over there?

  1. Gail says:

    I love the photo of the garden…The red shed just pops and the sky is lovely….Well, I have a few tulips blooming that I planted in a late winter frenzy. Of course I have no record of /or memory that they were a delicious orange! Does that count? gail

    1. margaret says:

      Yes, Gail, it counts. Actually, you now remind me: There were many tulips bulbs in the raised vegetable beds that I thought we’d dug out finally…but they grew back anyhow. Out those came, too. Orange tulips are my favorite (also like very dark purple and bright screaming red). See you soon again.

  2. mick says:

    Love the pic and all the trees around, very nice. I have a questions about tulips and other autumn bulbs, do they ever multiply in the ground?

    Pardon my ignorance on this


  3. margaret says:

    @Mick: Certain bulbs “naturalize,” meaning they last and often increase over many years, either by bulbs producing smaller offsets underground (like baby bulbs) or by seeding around when the flowers are finished and set seeds, or both. Hybrids tulips (most of the big tall ones) won’t do this so much; daffodils are more inclined to, as are lilies, for instance. Many of the small bulbs (glory of the snow, winter aconite, etc.) do it best of all. So varies from plant to plant, but tulips (other than the small non-hybrid or “botanical” species types) not so much.

  4. Country Gardener says:

    Very impressive. Rain, yes, please, bring it on. It’s been quite the dry April here in southern Ontario too.

  5. toni says:

    I am so jealous! It looks so inviting. I decided that my deck – which is the only place I get sun – will become my new container gardening bed. I have been looking for the perfect “beds” and have come to the conclusion that the plastic storage bins from Walmart could do the trick if I punch holes in the bottom and elevate them. What do you think?

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Toni. You can use anything you want, baskets or bins or boxes or actual pots, but you are right, drainage will be key. A friend of mine used to collect those “peach baskets” from the local fruit store that were leftover, bushel baskets, and line them w/heavy black plastic w/holes punched in the plastic (the baskets already drained fine) and they were great looking. Be liberal w/the holes; plants hate to sit in a bog.

  6. Ailsa says:

    And thank goodness they do naturalize! Imagine the job it would be to plant a million tiny scilla bulbs in your lawn in order to get a sea of blue. I love it when nature does the work for us!

    In my efforts to cut things back this spring, I became a bit stumped with the Carex ‘Ice Dance’ — some of them looked quite good and didn’t need any attention but others looked ragged and brown. So off with their shaggy heads! I’m hoping they’ll flush out again and regain their bushy shape. Have you had experience with this Margaret?

  7. Kathy says:

    I’m getting dirty again and it is wonderful. If only it could last a little longer, some of my daffodils are starting to fade.

  8. Eric says:

    RE: your raised beds – what dimensions are your beds? Or do they vary? And 2×10?s? Not p.t. right? How often do you have to replace them? I’m in the process of re-building my old raised beds and need to figure out a better/more accessible pattern in a not too large space. Shouldn’t be hard but… duh.

  9. Johanna says:

    I’m so jealous you can work in your veggie beds! We’ve had more than enough rain lately and when I stand near my garden I hear the water slowly seeping away. Do you put anything on the paths between beds to keep the mud off your shoes? (Like a gardener isn’t going to pick up mud somewhere anyway!)

  10. Roxana says:

    My lettuce from seed is going strong, and the brussel sprouts are also looking good. My parsley overwintered this year (which has made our pet rabbit exceedingly happy.) The locals here in Mason-Dixon Zone 7 have already begun planting their beat-your-neighbor tomatoes. I, however, am wary of such brash exuberance. Don’t they remember the cold snap of 1997?!? Foolish, foolish humans! Having grown up in 12517, I am sticking to my Mother’s Day weekend guns.

  11. margaret says:

    @Eric: They are about 18 years old, and they were in fact PT lumber (we were all much dumber then). I used stock lengths to reduce cuts and waste (so 4 feet wide, being one cut in an 8-foot board, to create either end). There are “dead men” cross pieces buried below the surface every 8 feet or so to stabilize the 20-foot-long beds (made of 10-foot 2 by 12’s).

    @Johanna: I use a small bark-chip mulch on the paths, which have a landscape cloth underneath to thwart weeds. It has been in place for 17 or so years; the mulch gets topped up every year or two a bit.

  12. Eric says:

    Wow, really pressure treated!?! It’s not that you were dumber, it’s that the truth wasn’t told. I’d probably be more suspicious now of the “safe” pressure treated wood for use in my beds than what you have. My beds were untreated and actually lasted quite a few years. Maybe I’ll just try mounding (isn’t that Martha’s method?). Thanks for the info.

  13. chigal says:

    I ran across some squishy old garlic cloves. I planted one clove per pot among the other plants, last year, for green garlic. I let them hang out just in case they’d sprout for me again, but I think they’re done. P-U!! And I have some tenacious ferns that won’t frond but don’t seem to want to go away, either. Oh, to have a compost pile…I guess I’ll plant around them again. I hate tearing up live roots that aren’t weeds.

  14. Mick says:

    Still waiting for the rain that was suppose to fall here in southern Ontario. The forecast for the rest of the week shows rain, but the weekend is suppose to be nice and sunny.

    I am not complaining, the ground needs the rain for the plants to start waking up, especially here in zone 5b. Most of my shrubs have started budding out.

    Maggie…what’s up with the site lately not loading?

  15. Melanie says:

    Along the perimeter of my raised bed are some golden oregano and golden marjoram plants I planted last fall. They came from planters I was dumping for the winter. I just couldn’t throw them away. Plus 2 sunken pots of Japanese painted ferns that didn’t have permanent homes yet. I’m still wondering where I’ll put them.

  16. Rosella says:

    Zone 7, northern virginia here. Lots and lots of rain, nice temps — today I broke all the rules and put out a couple of my seed-raised tomato plants in the patio pots. I figure I can cover them quickly if frost threatens, but the forecast is for 80 degrees by the weekend. Have a couple of Delicata squash plants that are really pushing to go in the ground but I am holding back until after May 1. Hope I will still be able to get in the door by then!

    No raised beds here — can’t afford the lumber, so I mound up and have done so for years.

  17. margaret says:

    Welcome, Bren. Yes, indeed, very anticipatory here as well. See you again soon, I hope.

    Welcome, Lylah. Thanks for the “invite” to Phoenix…I do love the American desert; the light is so amazing. See you soon.

  18. Amy says:

    Oh, the joy of possibility in a newly seeded bed! I love watching everything sprout! Here in East Tennessee, we are seeing a lot of green and flowering trees, and I am about to plant seeds in my very first vegetable bed! We get our load of topsoil tomorrow… Very exciting. I look forward to reading more about yours and seeing how things are coming along.

    Warm regards, Amy

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Amy. I’m happy you are joining us right as the season really begins, so we can keep in touch and hear about your debut vegetable garden. Keep me posted!

  19. Lynn says:

    Hi Margaret, I missed your post about potting hostas, so thanks for mentioning it again. Think that’s just what I’m gonna do with some Sum & Substance passalongs i got last year (if they ever come up so I can find them again!). After a 3-week wait, we finally have sweet pea seedlings poking up and lettuce & arugula starting, too. I *think* I even saw a spinach sprout today. Garlic is going gangbusters. The growing season is upon us at last!!!

  20. Louise says:

    Do you really use 10 pounds of lime per 100 square feet (10’x10′)? Do you test your soil first? Thanks so much, I’ve never known how much to use and just sprinkle it about!

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Louisa. A soil test is the correct first step, yes. I took a drastic approach this year, because I had skipped liming for a many years and let things go too far to the acid side, and was also topping up the beds with more soil and lots of compost and digging it in well. The package label rates are usually 2.5 to 5 per 100 square feet as I recall. For growing tomatoes, I would have done 5/100 here normally. Again, had I not been adding so much material to the beds, I would have stayed in the more typical range. See you soon again.

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