Seed Down

Choosing what to plant has always been a bit of a clusterfuck. My usual strategy is to go to the nicest garden center in town — Logan's Garden Shop — and lose my mind. Two hours later, I have a car full of plants with wildly varying nutrient, sunlight, and water requirements...and zero idea what to do with them. The first year, I actually dug into the heavy clay soil in my backyard. After working like a slave for two straight weeks, I decided the next year I'd switch to container gardening. So the next year, I spent a fortune on containers, overbought again, and yet again had no idea what to do with all the random plants (I tend to buy one of each, which is no way to landscape). This year, I'm working smarter, not harder.

For starters, I'm only growing edible things this year. What's more, they will all be heirloom varieties. Rare, fussy, and hard to find — just how I like my vegetables. I decided to start from seed this year, and our unseasonably warm winter agrees with me. I spent hours scouring seed sites and settled on two to start with for this Spring to Summer season: Annie's Heirloom Seeds and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I was looking for a mix of herbs, leafy greens, peppers, and melons to take me into the late summer season. As we approach the start of summer proper, I'll look for more seeds of heat-loving plants, and then again in the late summer since our fall tends to extend to early December. Here's what I've decided on for Spring to Summer:

Brassicas:

Leafy Greens:

Capsicums:

Herbs:

Melons/Gourds:

Alliums:

If that seems like a lot to manage...well it probably is. However, I'm not expecting everything to succeed. The Giant Red Celery is reportedly difficult to grow, and the two brassicas are picky about temperature. The herbs, brassicas, cucumbers, greens, and onions can go into the ground now (mid February), while the melons and peppers will have to wait until mid to late March, when temperatures are more stable. I divvided up the planter into square foot-ish sections. I wanted to start with more lettuce, especially while the weather remained mild, so I dedicated two 2x1 sections to the two salad mix lettuce blends. The celery got its own square foot space, as did the two brassicas on the opposite side, followed by the parsley and two scallions. The planter being 2½ feet wide, I used the center six inches for the arugula, coriander, pepper cress, and chives, which got a two foot length of space. I have a fantastically sturdy slatted wooden table I got from IKEA which holds the longer-growing vegetables in foot-diameter grow pots: all four cucumbers, more parsley, some kale seeds I got for free,  and dill. After reading reviews of the dill seeds, I decided it would be best to grow them separately as they tend to drop lots of seeds everywhere. The chives are supposed to behave similarly, but I feel like having to weed chives is a good problem to have.