March Garden Tour

This will be a fairly brief tour, as there isn’t a whole lot going on out there just yet. Our cold and wet weather has put some of my planting plans on hold for a bit as I wait for things to dry out. On Sunday I did manage to get onions planted in one of the kitchen garden beds. The bed is about 25 square feet in size, and I got 120 onion plants in there, plus about 25 I set off to one edge to pull for scallions and spring onions. That’s a fairly dense planting, but I’m more interested in total yield than I am in getting big onions. I find the small to medium sized ones just as useful in the kitchen anyway since we rarely use a whole onion at one time.

onion bed after planting

onion bed after planting

This year I planted four varieties of onions from plants I got from Dixondale Farms. I grew three varieties that did well for me last year (Super Star, Candy, Red Torpedo Tropea) plus Copra which is a new one for me. I’m pushing my luck with Copra since it is a long-day type, but we are at 37.9° latitude here and that is just within the recommended growing range for these class of onions. Then on yesterday, two days after I planted the onions, we got more snow! It was only a couple of inches, and is almost melted already where the sun could get to it. That made me decide to give up on planting peas this spring. It is getting late for them, and the soil conditions just aren’t right even if I start the peas indoors and set out transplants. Peas do well here in fall and I can usually find a spot for them to follow another crop like squash or garlic.

snow covered onions

snow covered onions

Last week I also managed to work on a cold frame bed that had overwintered kale in it. I pulled a few of the plants that were struggling and left five Starbor plants that survived the winter and were making new growth. They will bolt soon though, so I set out a dozen plants total of Darkibor, Starbor and Prizm in with the overwintered plants. There are all hybrid curly kale varieties that should grow quickly and give us a cutting or two before really hot weather arrives. I have kohlrabi and mizuna plants ready to go in other beds once the soil dries a bit. And another bed will have lettuce plants when they are ready in a couple of weeks. I also need to build a cold frame to replace one that is falling apart. The one in the below photo is only a couple of years old and in good shape.

kale in the cold frame bed

kale in the cold frame bed

In the main garden, the only thing growing is a bed of alliums I planted last fall. I am happy that it looks like all the shallots and multiplier onions made it through the winter, and I only lost a few of the garlic plants. It was the coldest winter we’ve had in several years, and the temperature got down below 0°F on at least two occasions, with the lowest reading at -6°F That’s just out of range for our Zone 6B area, really more like a Zone 6A winter. It’s always hard for me to predict how much cold and wet conditions some cultivars can take. Things in that bed are planted 4 wide, with a total of 220 plants in all – 176 garlic, 20 shallots and 24 Yellow Potato Onions. I will fertilize, weed and mulch that bed with straw sometime next month. I got the below pic through the garden fence, since the ground is so wet and muddy I really didn’t want to go inside!

alliums in the main garden

alliums in the main garden

I’ll close with a photo of our Merrill magnolia tree that is blooming now. The large white blossoms are fragrant, and the three year old tree is loaded with blooms. We planted another one of these last year on the other side of the house, and it has quite a few blooms itself.

magnolia blossoms

magnolia blossoms

I hope you have enjoyed this tour of the garden here in March. I’ll try and do a greenhouse tour soon because there is much more growing in there right now than there is outside.

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11 Responses to March Garden Tour

  1. Jane Strong says:

    Oh, yes, did enjoy the tour especially since I was able to compare it to mine. Very odd weather we are having, isn’t it? (Still can’t get over Coconut Mashed Purple Sweet Potatoes. Are they related to the Purple People Eater?)(I’ve got all those Blue Zones books. They make great reading.)

    • Dave says:

      The purple mashed sweet potatoes do look other-worldly! The weather here has been odd, but I guess that’s the new normal. After several mild winters we were lulled into thinking it would always be that way, but this was more like the winters I remember when I was growing up temperature-wise. And winter just doesn’t want to go away.

      I really enjoyed the one Blue Zone book I read. I know I can’t assume that cherry-picking some of the practices from the healthiest places on earth will work miracles, but I do think it makes sense to adopt a few of them. I live in an area where too many people have high rates of disease, and obesity is an epidemic. I would call it a Red Zone – in more ways than one! I’ve always tried to eat healthy, grow as much of my own food as possible, and to make exercise a part of my everyday routine. It has served me well so far, but there’s always room for improvement.

  2. Jane Strong says:

    Oh, gee, now it shows up again. So confusing.

  3. Sue Garrett says:

    Other than the magnolia – ours only has small buds at the moment. Your garden looks very much like ours has this ‘spring’.

  4. Michelle says:

    Onions are the big gap in my winter garden this year. I usually plant them out in January but the downy mildew was SO BAD last year that I decided not to chance it this year with another huge planting. I’ve got a small patch of scallions and my beloved I’itois in pots.

    They’re calling it Miracle March here, the rain has returned in a big way with an atmospheric river that should pull us mostly out of drought for the year. It does make it difficult to get much done in the garden though.

    The Magnolia is beautiful!

  5. Phuong says:

    We’ve had a wet rain spring as well. I’ve started all these peas in flats with nowhere to plant them, since the ground is still too wet to work.

    It’s great that you were able to get some things planted, and your garlic is looking good. My tomatoes are just starting to germinate, which is always exciting.

  6. Margaret says:

    -6F??? Wow, that’s crazy for your area…for us, not so much 😉 – I’m anxious for true spring weather to arrive too – this year seems particularly bad but I’m never sure if I’m being objective or not since I always think that at this time of year.

    Oh, that’s too bad about the peas – I’ve actually never grown them in the fall but it’s definitely something I need to try at some point. I’m wondering whether the cooler weather would mean an extended harvest period.

    And I agree on onion size – I grow Ailsa Craig more for novelty than anything else & limit how many I grow to 15-20 as I also prefer medium sized onions. Last year we had a ton of tiny onions though and that was a pain as I would often need to peel 3 or 4 to get the equivalent of a single normal sized onion.

  7. I enjoyed the tour, thanks Dave! Brr it looks rather chilly though. My onions will be about that distance apart too, though I use sets (I’ve got the bed ready but am just waiting for the cold spell to pass before putting them out). I did try onion from seeds this year too but had really poor germination. Lovely magnolia!

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