You garden is calling

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I have given up on trying to grow tomatoes.  It’s not that I have a black thumb…it’s that the squirrels win every year.  Last year the $%&#@ critters stole every last one of my large tomatoes, and I barely even managed to get any cherry tomatoes.  Catching them in the act was an exercise in rage and futility: I’d look out of my dining room window to see three squirrels chowing down, and then they’d look up and grin maliciously at me.  I swear, once one of them even waved at me.

My husband has not reached the breaking point yet.  A few weeks ago he enthusiastically set up the grow light operation for starting tomato and pepper seeds in our living room.  ‘Tis the season, and all that.

But while the tomatoes and peppers are merrily taking root in my livingroom, I think it’s important to remember that there are things that can be planted in the garden right now.  Philadelphia’s average last frost date is April 20 - just a month away!  This weekend it’s supposed to be 55-60 degrees with very little chance of rain…so make a plan: it’s time to dust off the garden!


So exactly what can be planted right now?  All the good cool weather crops: peas, onions, potatoes, turnips, cabbage, greens like kale and mustard and collards, lettuce, radishes, beets, carrots, shallots, spinach, bok choy, brussels sprouts, rutabaga, and parsley.  You can even plant broccoli if you’re setting it from plants.

As usual, I’m a little behind the eight ball this year in ordering my seeds (I may have to make a run up to Burpee this weekend to round out my seed collection) - most of what I have ordered are warmer weather seeds.  But I do have at least a few things to plant right now:

  • Parisienne carrots - These are teeny tiny round carrots that are great for growing in heavy soil (which I have).  They are very sweet with a thin skin that does not need to be peeled.  Very popular in Europe, they should be ready to pick in about 65 days…so I will have carrots to brag about in May!  I ordered these from Baker Creek.
  • Hakurei turnips - I discovered these a few years ago at the Fair Food Farmstand and knew I had to grow them.  As it turns out, they are ludicrously easy to grow, and even faster to mature than the little round carrots: 38 days!  So I will have awesome Japanese salad turnips by the end of April, which will be great.  The lesson I learned last year: succession planting is my friend.  I really like turnips, but I can’t eat them every day and there’s no really great way to preserve turnips.

I plan to plant some mustard, along with a very small amount of mesclun mix, yellow beets, spinach, and (of course) lacinato kale this weekend as well.

Posted by Nicole on 03/17 at 10:52 AM

I know exactly what you mean: I was actually attacked by a squirrel in my garden last Fall! I allow my cat to go outside (I set up a cat-proof fence) and that kept them away for most of the growing season, but by Fall, they got so aggressive, they destroyed my cat fence (my cat was happy!). Then, one wouldn’t leave the yard so I got the hose out to squirt him and he lunged at me! It was the funniest thing to see: a grown woman with a hose, jumping around with a squirrel at her feet, screaming like a ninny. I got a bad feeling about this growing season, though…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/17  at  02:26 PM

I started my seeds for tomatoes, peas, and nasturtium this past weekend, too! And outside I inspected my plants that made it through the winter: mint, rosemary, lavender, chive, parsley (!). I put in seeds for coriander, more parsley, and borage.

Bring on the warm spring days!

The squirrels, btw, ate all of the bulbs I planted last spring. Buggers.

Posted by Katia  on  03/18  at  01:56 AM

I’m so excited thinking of the warmer days to come, and the early spring veg…. the taste of the first greens….
I am doing succession planting too.  How often are you sowing lettuce?

Posted by Mangochild  on  03/18  at  07:59 AM
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