Plotted and Planted

Although you can never be too sure in Wisconsin about being out of danger of frost, last weekend I took my chances and planted the summer vegetable/herb garden! Last year's "effort" produced pretty great results for a first timer who had no idea what she was doing. This year, I took a more scientific approach.

And by scientific, I mean choosing which produce I wanted to plant, plugging them into the magical Interwebz machine, and having it spit out the exact garden plot I should plant, based on my own garden's layout and square footage.

You guys, I love the modern age.

Because I'm incredibly stubborn, I'd meant to do all the research of planting a proper, well-thought-out garden all winter (thereby having the satisfaction that, hey y'all, I did this relatively all by myself with my own brains and smarts). As it tends to do, my laziness got in the way, so all that research never happened. So I turned to SmartGardener's super-cool, super-free tool to help me figure out how much I needed to plant, and where each of these plants needed to be placed in the garden. I simply plugged in the plants I wanted to plant, gave the measurements and orientation of my raised-bed garden, and a few seconds later, the SmartGardener program gave me this:

It plotted out my garden based on which plants do well when planted by one another. This is something I didn't think about at all last year. Very cool.

So here's the lineup, from left to right:

  • Spinach
  • Red pepper
  • Jalapenos
  • Tomatoes 
  • Bush beans
  • Squash
  • Radish
  • Kohlrabi
  • Cucumbers
I essentially wanted to plant everything I eat in my daily spinach salads. If I'm going to eat a salad every day, I might as well save money and grow everything on my own. Eric specifically requested the kohlrabi (his favorite) and the butternut squash. As for herbs, I've got a little basil, cilantro and mint in store, which are not depicted on the virtual garden above.

So, once I have the virtual garden planted, it was time to start on the real deal.
I spent some time weeding, picking out a few rocks and then tilling the garden with a stirrup hoe and a big ol' pitchfork.

Then I went to work planting, following SmartGardener's guide. Here's what the garden looks like today (don't mind all the crazy helicopter thingies scattered about... we had a pretty rough storm Tuesday night, so these things were blown all over the place. Also, don't mind the wheelbarrow full of decomposing weeds. Those have yet to be dumped.):

I planted mostly seeds, but picked up a couple different started plants. Like the peppers and the jalapenos (which, I'm aware, are also peppers).

And, surprise!, some cilantro and mint from last year's garden decided to stick around and start growing on their own. I'm going to keep watch on them and hope they'll still be good on their second go-around this year.

Did you notice how this year I marked all of my plants? I'm becoming a very serious gardener. There will be no surprises like last year's watermelons. Also, because this year I'm not growing watermelons.

Our neighbor across the street brought over some tomato plantlets he'd started indoors. I was super happy because I'd wanted to grow tomatoes this year, anyway. I really wanted to be able to use these puppies (which I'm thinking I'll install in the garden soon so the tomatoes don't get interrupted if I wait to use the cages until they're big).

So, there you have it! I'll keep you updated with how everything is progressing. We're about to have some steamy days ahead and maybe a little rain on Sunday, so I'm really hoping this will give a nice jumpstart to the garden. 

Here's to hoping I have half the success I did last year (and half the crop of monster cucumbers, too...)

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