My 2016 garden started last fall with the planting of seventy-two cloves of garlic started from Enon Valley Garlic bulbs. Just after the daffodils started to poke through the ground, the garlic was not far behind! While this winter was not nearly as cold as last year, a few news articles mentioned to not worry about your garlic sprouting in let’s say, January! Our garlic stayed snug in the ground until March, but the back yard is always cooler than the rest of yard since its microclimate is influenced by the stream and valley.

Garlic sprouting (left), garlic a few weeks later (right)

Garlic peeking through the straw Garlic growing

The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh posted suggested planting dates for 2016 this morning because there is no forseeable cold on the horizon. For my area, the new planting date is April 20th. I chuckled as this is almost two weeks earlier than I when I normally plant. I chuckled because one I’m lazy and two: every year I want to put something in early we have a frost a few nights a week. Maybe I might put in the salad greens, because they don’t mind some chilly nights but zucchini, basil, tarragon, and tomatoes definitely won’t be seeing dirt until mid-May. (I really have no choice when Burpee ships, but they’re mindful of planting zones.)

Future Food!

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Each year the garden gets a bit more refined. (2015 plan and 2014 lessons learned) I learn what works where, and what does not work anywhere. This year in our garden there will be four types of vegetables:

  • Salad Greens (Heatwave Lettuce Blend from Burpee)
  • Zucchini (Burpee Hybrid Summer Squash*. The zucchini grew REALLY well last year, but we lost a few plants to boring insects..)
  • Tomato: Steak Sandwich Hybrid (Burpee Steak Sandwich Hybrid) This tomato was oh so delicious – well what grew. A very wet June, and then some really hot/dry July and August days meant uneven growth, and some split tomatoes. No blight to speak of though.)
  • Tomato: Patio Paste Hybrid (New to us this from Burpee. I’m trying a patio style variety that should do well in the garden, but may grow larger in a garden setting)

Arranging it all

Inside the garden

I used to grow in five narrow beds, but we are going with four beds this year (less weeding!) and the beds are shifted more to the right side of the garden that gets full sun almost all day. The tomatoes will be almost right next to the fence, but still far enough from the wandering mouths of animals. I also plan to to plant an extra zucchini plant in space at the end of some rows. Vinca, buttercups, grass, and other random weeds grow along the stream side of the garden that I can’t seem to get rid of no matter what so I just let it stay.

The salad greens get the shadiest row. It’s nice and sunny before the leaves really fill out the trees, and provides just enough sun/shade so the plants don’t burn. I forsee part of the fence-line on that side staying grass with maybe some random pickable flowers for the kids. I encourage the kids to blow dandelions in the garden since they make nice compost and they really are the least annoying and most beautiful weed! My yard is a dandelion sanctuary, sorry neighbors I AM that neighbor.

I put a lot of straw down in the fall which seriously helps with weeding. I feel like the weeds grow in the straw instead of the dirt. I gently remove and replace the straw in spring with new straw to help retain ground moisture, and to prevent rain splashback on the tomatoes. I would like to think that this is why my tomatoes were killed by cold rather than blight in 2015. I’m letting the grass grow between rows and around them which also seemed helpful last year, again more out of laziness, but the lawnmower fit!

Garden 2016

Outside the garden

I have two Jostaberry plants. The first two I blogged about last year did not survive the first place I put them in, so I relocated them to a sunnier and much drier spot. Burpee was very easy to work with on the returns (especially since I had taken a photo of the products once I received them and wrote a blog post with the pictures.) I received the new set of plants in the fall so they had a month or so to acclimate and go dormant before the cold really set in. I’ve seen what looks like new growth, so I am hoping these new plants made it through the winter!

Jostaberry (year 1)

Bring forth the Butterflies and Pollinators

In the fall, I play plant roulette with the plants in my yard. Lots of daffodils, daisies, cone flowers, and black eyed susans got split and relocated to new areas of my yard. Inside the garden, I moved some lilies from an old and busted wine barrel so the plants could grow inside the garden without the deer coming by to munch on them.

I also happened upon quite a large collection of milkweed seeds. My luck with milkweed seeds has yet to be seen, until I read an article last summer about how the seeds need to be planted in the fall so they can go dormant over the winter. Ahhhh I always tried to collect in the fall and plant in spring. (I think I had one tiny, tiny plant come up, maybe?) Armed with this new knowledge I added milkweed seeds in various areas of the backyard.

I look forward to planting some cottage garden seeds or wildflower mix inside and outside the garden for the purposes of pollination and flower cuttings. I lean heavily on native and deer resistant plants where possible, but the deer always seem to nibble on everything.

Garden Plan (2016)http://www.thesugarpixie.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/garden_2016.jpghttp://www.thesugarpixie.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/garden_2016-150x150.jpgthesugarpixieGardeninggarden 2016,garden planning,gardening,garlic,jostaberry,tomatoes,zone 6,zucchiniMy 2016 garden started last fall with the planting of seventy-two cloves of garlic started from Enon Valley Garlic bulbs. Just after the daffodils started to poke through the ground, the garlic was not far behind! While this winter was not nearly as cold as last year, a few...Misadventures and fun in the kitchen and beyond