The most important one is that you don’t need to wait until Memorial Day to plant your vegetable garden. Yes, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, beans, corn, and others need to be planted after the danger of the last frost has passed. But there are a whole bunch more that are safe to be planted outside now: Broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, carrots, radishes, peas and more. But not only that, but many of them are also meant to be sown every few weeks, so that you get fresh batches all summer long. And if you do any preserving such as freezing, drying, or canning, There’s no need to get your winter crop planted early. I actually plant one, final batch of corn, carrots, beans, and cucumbers on the Fourth of July.
So that leads me to the title of this article, Plant 1/12th; There are about 12 weeks between now and the Fourth of July, give or take. And I believe gardening should always be fun and never a chore. So instead of thinking “Oh, I have to plant my whole vegetable garden this weekend!” Try thinking “Oooooh! I GET to plant a 12th of my garden this week!!!”
The numbers are not meant to be precise. Because sometimes you can plant two things in the same place. For example, I just planted some peas. In mid-summer when the weather gets too hot, they will stop producing. Then I will be to be able to replace them with something else. But you get the idea.
Plus, it’s not fun to harvest a 50-foot row of string beans. After about 10 feet I’m hot and bored. But when I plant new plants every three weeks, I only have to harvest 10 feet at a time. I like to call it “Two Tina Gardening”. Since I’m 5 feet tall, I picture two lengths of my body stretched out and that’s about how much I like to harvest at a time.
The second tip I’d like to share with you is to remind you that the weeds will come. This will not be the year that they don’t come. And you won’t have more time later to put the mulch down. You will be doing yourself a great service if you can mulch the plants as you plant them. You can’t always do that successfully with seeds, because you have to wait until they germinate to mulch them, but you can certainly mulch between the rows.
I have a 5-foot stack of cardboard boxes that I’ve been saving all winter. I lay these down between the rows and throw grass clippings and weeds on top of them all season long. (Early in the season I have to hold them down with rocks until I get grass clippings, so they don’t blow away.) They rot by seasons end and I just dig the cardboard and partially broken down grass clippings into the soil.
Every time I mulch my garden, I am reminded of a sign I saw in the dentist’s office 50 years ago. It said, “Only Floss the Teeth You Want to Keep.” The gardening equivalent is “Only mulch those plants you don’t want to weed.” The weeds are coming. That good, old ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Between mulching and spreading out the workload, I hope you will have great fun in the garden!