Spring has finally sprung, and that means only one thing: time for gardening season to begin!
The winter of 2011-2012 was the warmest I can recall since moving to the Boston area 12 years ago. It was basically an extended autumn, and I had kale and Brussels sprouts growing in the garden until early January before the plants finally died from a hard freeze.
I was tempted to sow my peas and spinach in early February when we had a long stretch of 50-degree weather. Instead I waited until last weekend.
I spent a good part of the day last Sunday constructing a trellis for the peas. I copied a design used at ECHO, an organization dedicated to teaching agricultural practices to citizens of impoverished nations. I went on their Global Farm tour in Florida early last year when I was visiting with family and was inspired by many of their garden and farm designs. The pea trellis was among many of the things I plan to use in my own garden from here on out.
The trellis was built with branches from a dead crabapple tree that I took down in our yard last fall. It had many sturdy branches that I saved for use in this year’s garden, so there was no shortage of materials. The top pole is 7’ supported by 5’ “legs” that are criss-crossed to provide a notch for the pole to sit in. The
intersecting poles were bound with garden twine, and I tied 4’ lengths between the top pole and a salvaged fence post sitting on the soil to keep the strings taut.
At some point I plan to build cold frames using scrap wood and heavy plastic to get a head-start on the growing season, but that will have to wait for another time. Perhaps I’ll have them built before the fall so we can have a longer growing season and have leafy greens past Thanksgiving.
Last year was my first time trying multiple cropping, where crops are grown one after another in the same space. This year I plan to expand how many vegetable varieties I grow and will be able to do so by using nearly every part of the garden for two crops (and possibly three, if I ever get around to building cold frames).
What I’m most excited about this year is growing Jacob’s Cattle beans. These are dry beans that have a beautiful purple and white speckled pattern. These beans are an heirloom variety and were one of the most common types grown in early America. I’ll also be swapping out pole green beans for the bush variety.
Here’s a map of my 2012 garden plan, which indicates what third of each raised bed will have multiple crops.
Complete list of what I’ll grow in 2012:
(variety in parentheses)
Tomatoes (Pink Brandywine, Marglobe, and Thessaloniki)
Brussels sprouts (Long Island Improved)
Swiss chard (Fordhook)
Radishes (French Breakfast)
Carrots (Danvers half-long)
Dry Beans (Jacob’s Cattle)
Green beans (Early Contender)
Kale (Blue Scotch Curled)
Spinach (Bloomsdale Long Standing)