Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Winter Garden - From Beds to Planting

You're probably thinking, isn't it a little late to start a winter garden?  According to my gardening guru, Don, it's never too late.  Just make sure you seed inside and transfer (opposed to seeding directly in the ground or bed). Not sure where you're located, but we are having a very out-of-the-ordinary winter.  It's more like...spring.  Seriously, yesterday (February 4) was in the upper 60s, sunny, warm and just gorgeous.  My winter garden is growing like mad, so I thought I better get my pictures and gardening posts going here.  

Before you start your garden, you might want to read this post.  
Okay, so you've thought about it, processed all the appropriate considerations (for example, locating the sunniest part of your yard), now it's time to rock-n-roll.

#1  Vegetable Beds

We didn't follow any particular design when we made our beds.  But I can't stress how easy it is to make your own.  One important element is to purchase untreated wood.  And we use redwood.  Remember you can ask your lumber yard to make the cuts you need (if you don't have a circular saw).  

The pictures below feature 3 beds. 
Two rectangle and one large square.  

-For the rectangle-
Two:  1" x 12" x 6 foot long planks
Two:  1" x 12" x 2 foot long planks
 Four: 2" x 2" x 12" long boards

-For the large square-
Four: 2" x 12" x 6 foot long planks
Two: 2" x 2" x 12" long boards

Weed barriers are a great idea under your beds.  

 #2  Dirt & Soil

When I started gardening I was completely overwhelmed when it came to soil.  So many freaken' choices out there.  How do you decide what's best?  Here's a simple way to get started when it comes to soil.

Look for organic potting soil and compost.  If you're not using yard dirt, then purchase 1:2 ratio of compost to potting soil (e.g., 1 bag of compost to 2 bags of potting soil).  My beds contain equal parts potting soil, yard dirt, and 1/2 that amount in compost (soil conditioner).   

Using my square bed as an example, first, I add dirt from the yard (about 4 inches or so) then 1 1/2 bags of potting soil, an equal amount of dirt from the yard, 1 1/2  bags of potting soil, and mix.  Then 1 1/2 bags of compost (soil conditioner) and mix.  As I move to the top of the bed, I use less and less dirt from the yard and more potting soil.  My last few layers are a mix of potting soil and compost (soil conditioner)  Total for the square bed: 6 bags of soil, 3 bags of compost (soil conditioner), and yard dirt. 

First layer of yard dirt on bottom: 
Finished rectangle bed:
 Gardening with my daughter is the BEST!  

Okay twinkle toes, enough foolen' around, back to "work"...

#3  Planting & Growing

Check out this video from Don, my gardening guru, with some great winter gardening advice.  In a nut shell, seed outdoors before the first frost (a good 4-6 weeks before the first frost).  So if you live in Northern California like me, then you can start planting your winter garden late September, early October.  I follow the directions on the back of seed packs (how deep and how far apart to plant seeds).  But don't fret if you've waited too long, simply seed indoors and transfer to the bed. 

Here's what I planted this winter
-Snow Peas (seeded outside in the fall)
-Kohlrabi (seeded outside in the fall)
-Carrots (seeded outside in the fall)
-Broccoli (seeded outside in the fall)
-Garlic (seeded outside in the fall)
-Lettuce (planted starters)
-Onions (planted starters)

Planting the snow peas
October 22
Early February  
First snow pea flowers - February 

Kohlrabi sprouts early November 
Beginning of February 

Carrot spouts November 1st (sprouted up 9 days after seeding)
Carrots beginning of February 

 Broccoli sprouts November 5th
Beginning of February 
First little broccoli heads popping up!  So exciting!
 Lettuce starters - planted early November 
Beginning of February 
Planted garlic cloves directly in the ground - November
Showing some good growth early February 

Onions starters planted in November 
Onion progress early February 

Winter garden beds mid-November 

Winter garden bed early February 
Stay tuned for the next gardening post...
How to build a pea trellis (during your child's nap)!

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