Preparing and Planting

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We’re heading towards the end of May, well past the frost date in New Jersey. It’s finally feeling like summer around here, and our long Winter that stretched into Spring seems to be behind us. That means it’s time to plant summer flowers and vegetables! I did manage to get some spinach and kale in but missed out on planting any other Spring greens. No worries though, the seeds will just be put aside for the Fall garden! 

Before planting, we had to prepare the beds, which involves removing any excess old debris and turning the soil over. In my first blog post I mentioned that my garden isn’t perfect….well, I didn’t get out to tend to my beds as soon as I would have liked. One of them wound up looking like this:

Eek!

I took drastic measures, which for me meant using an organic commercial weed and grass killer (twice!), then tilling. My husband doesn’t have much of an interest in gardening, but he knows it makes me happy so he does things like put on a floppy farmer’s hat and spend an afternoon tilling my garden beds for me. He’s good like that! Afterwards we had 3 turned-over vegetable beds and a spot next to the wildflower patch for the milkweed seeds.

Milkweed will go here next to the growing wildflowers!

 In half of the first bed my daughter and her friend planted 3 rows of spinach, 1 row of chard, and some yellow squash seeds which were directly sown into the ground. I mulched between the rows using straw from our local grain and feed store. Since I forgot all about plant markers, the girls decorated some wooden stakes that I found in the garage and we used those instead. 

Unfortunately, the next day our golden retriever, lured by the prospect of frolicking in fresh straw, busted through the garden fence, jumped around the bed, dug, rolled around and tossed the straw into the air.  So, we’ll keep our fingers crossed for the spinach!

The rest of my garden will be planted with a mix of seeds that can be directly sowed into the ground, and plants that I purchased. It’s easy to get carried away at the nursery, so I usually try to write out a simple plan of which plants will go in each garden section before shopping. It’s also a good idea to keep companion planting in mind. For instance, I like to plant marigolds, peppers and onions with my tomatoes and nasturtium and radishes with my squash. 

Seeds and plants, ready to go!

As the weather warms, the pollinators are returning and the birds have been busy pairing off and building nests!

Mama Bluebird sitting on the grape arbor, and the male bluebird keeping watch from the garden fence.  

Just the same as it happened the prior few Spring and Summer seasons, Bluebirds claimed one nesting box, and Tree Swallows claimed the other.  We’ve been keeping an eye on the nests!

Bluebird nest and eggs on the left, Tree Swallow nest and eggs on the right.

Just today, a few of the eggs hatched! Welcome to the world baby bluebirds!

Can you spot the babies?

My next couple of posts will include what I’ve planted my vegetable and herb gardens so far, companion planting, and planting milkweed seeds along with native flowers. Happy gardening!

Mother Earth Gardener
Mother Earth Gardener
Expert advice on all aspects of growing.