Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Spring Planting Time is Almost Here

This is the time of year when winter's lost whatever luster it had when the fluffy stuff was actually white. The snow's been sticking around here in Connecticut for weeks now, and although we've got under six inches on the ground (and more falling now), the heavy crust on top has turned the snow cover into an impenetrable barrier for some creatures, like deer. Although I rarely see them, their tracks are everywhere, crisscrossing the property.

This is the time of year I daydream of next year's vegetable garden. On the list of must-haves are: pea pods, string beans, zucchini, cucumbers, yellow wax beans, lettuce, green peppers, cherry and beefsteak tomatoes, scallions, potatoes, yellow squash and spaghetti squash. I also plan, with my father's help, to expand the size of the garden by about 40%. Last year it was a modest 8 x 6' and it exceeded my expectations in productivity.

Well, actually, my father will help me fence in the garden plot properly. Last year I used plastic deer fencing and wood stakes, and it proved to be a flimsy affair, partly because I made the mistake of using the fencing itself as support for growing tomato plants that I tied to the fencing. As the plants grew large, their weight pulled the fencing in until the whole thing slowly imploded.
It made it impossible to get in there for weeding, but vegetable plots aren't demanding, and the bounty made it possible for me to enjoy organic tomatoes as a base for sauce, soups and stews all winter long.

I've only grown potatoes once before, but it was a great success, and I can't tell you what fun it was digging in the dirt for those hidden tubers. (You wouldn't want to use a rake or shovel as you risk slicing the potatoes in half.)

One of last summer's woodchucks made himself a burrow beneath the dense stand of forsythia in the backyard; luckily for me, no woodchucks messed with the veggie garden. The vegetable garden is in the front yard, where it enjoys day-long sunshine. Still, next year's fence needs to protect against both woodchucks and deer. That means burying poultry wire 12 inches into the ground as well as above-ground fencing that reaches at least 6 feet.

I'm not at all "handy" when it comes to this stuff, but that's where Dad comes in.

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