Gearing Up For Spring: Bonzai’s Garden Guide

February 10th, 2010 - filed under: The Farm » Flora

Spring Shootsimage

A few days ago I was returning home from running some errands. I pulled my car into the driveway, glanced over towards the stairs, and just about did a double take. “WHAT THE -??!”

The bulbs are coming up. How is this happening already!? Where did the winter go? And didn’t the groundhog just say I had more time??

I know that those of you in the eastern US are getting your fair share of winter right about now (good luck guys!). But other parts of the country – and the northern hemisphere in general – is beginning the beautiful awakening process. Here in the PNW we’re getting amazing, early spring weather, and the sunshine sure is a sight for sore eyes (and vitamin D-deficient bodies!) And of course, I’m realizing it’s already time to start prepping this years garden – so exciting!

Unfortunately for me, my garden will have to be a bit more modest this time around (I am, after all, busy growing something else at the moment). But that doesn’t mean I won’t be farming in my own way. I’m a horticulturist at heart, and that will never change! (plus, I simply could not live without homegrown tomatoes)

In the meantime, I did a lot of leg work last year that all you new gardeners out there may find useful. Here’s a list of links to help you get started:

Are you guys as excited as I am for the coming seasonal shift? Outdoors! Sunshine! Dirt! Fresh veggies!!! So whether it’s an acre in the country or a window box in the city, dig out your trusty trowel guys – it’s farm time!

  • Melisa

    We will be doing a garden (a very, VERY modest garden) for the first time ever. Thank you SO much for this post!!!

  • Hope Hughes

    So pretty! I’m longing for spring to arrive!!

  • Sandi

    Where I live I have very limited space outdoors, and we just got 10 inches of snow yesterday, but you are my inspiration! I am going to try growing a small garden at the very least this year…if I don’t try I will never know, right?

  • Kaye

    You’re rather lucky- I’ve been yearning for the beginnings of spring for a while now. The ground hog does live is PA, though, so maybe he was just predicting all the cold weather for all us in the East. :p

  • EroSan

    Remember how I was trying my luck with radishes? every internet site I used for research said they would be ready around 3 weeks after planting… Its almost been 2 month now and the little thingies have not grown fat yet T_T (also, only half of the seeds sprouted… and some of them died… But I still have faith that at least 1 of the remaining 8 radishes will grow to an eatable size…

    Also, I salvaged (ok, I asked for it) a little yerbabuena ( plant from my inlaws… and then grew it on 2 different pots and exchanged one of them for a pretty pretty basil plant.

    So even if the radishes do not turn out ok, I intend to keep gardening… so bring it on!

  • Meghan

    Ugh. I am going to be out of town for most of July and August this year, so I’m thinking the garden might not happen. If I had a real yard that could potentially get rain I’d go for it, but I’m not going to stick some neighbor with watering and harvesting for 6 weeks for me. :-(

  • Sayward

    @ Melisa – Yay, congrats! Modest is fine – better to start small and manageable than to jump in over your head. =) Plus, even modest can reap amazing rewards! Especially in terms of herbs. Good luck!

    @ Hope Hughes – Me too! I’m *ready* for it!

    @ Sandi – Exactly! No harm in trying. I ‘grew’ a number of pathetic not-quite-gardens, before I got into the groove (and I still have a lot to learn). It’s all a process but the process itself is the reward – the meditation of hands in dirt, the exposure to sun and quiet and fresh air, the cultivation of life. It’s all just so fun. With limited space you should check out container gardening. Plus you could start it sooner because you can start it indoors! =)

    @ Kaye – Good luck with that crazy weather, and my the spring come swiftly to those in the east!

    @ EroSan – Hmm, that’s strange. How’s your soil quality? Have you been fertilizing them? Is it too compact? (root veggies need a looser, sandier soil so they can expand) But you never know, maybe they’re just late bloomers (nyuk nyuk). I’ll be crossing my fingers for them!

    And thanks for the link – I had no idea what a yerbabuena was. =) Home grown basil, mmmm I can’t wait for that again. Yes, bring it on!!

    @ Meghan – Are you getting a house sitter at all? You could do some containers, which would be easier to care for if you have someone coming by a few times a week. But I understand, that time frame pretty much nixes any chance of a real garden. Ah well, maybe it’s just a farmer’s market/CSA kind of year. =)

  • Callie

    I can’t believe you’re already getting such beautiful little sprouts while we’re under feet of snow here in DC. As a native CA girl this will be my second year trying out a little garden on the East Coast, and the first time in our new home! We’ve got a lot of backyard, but it doesn’t get much sun. Any advice on growing in shady places? I tried lettuce last year, and it never amounted to much. More than anything I want tomatoes, but I’m not sure we have good sun for more than a plant or two.

    Good luck with all your growing endeavors!

  • Farmingtheburbs

    I am dying to get started on the garden and yet, we just but our house up for sale, yikes, I am not sure I am going to have a garden this year. :-(

  • daoine o’

    we are *so* ready for spring up here at 9118′! our growing season is very short, and we’re in a valley surrounded by 11-12,000′ peaks, direct sunlight is a short-lived resource during the day, but we’re going to give gardening a try for the first time this year.

    we’ve still got a lot of research on high-altitude gardening to do, but we’re eager to try a few things, especially the tire-tower spuds. we hear root veggies do grow well up here, so maybe we’ll try some carrots and/or yams, too.

    thanks for all your links, all in one spot; and as always, your site rocks! :)

  • TeanyTinyStar

    I cant wait for spring!

  • Leah

    Oh man, I’ve got the spring itch so bad! It’s been warm here in Louisiana (no longer, though…sleeting today) and it makes me want to go dig in the dirt.

    Too bad it’s container gardening for me this year. No yard. Boo. I’m doing herbs and maybe something more elaborate if I get a little crazy.

  • Stephanie

    Thank you for this! I meant to start a balcony garden last year, but whoops, life happened. I am determined this year!!

  • Salekdarling

    Yeah, winter isn’t being very kind to us in the east. I’m suppose to get another two feet of snow on Monday in western PA. I just don’t know when to start my seedlings. *sigh*

  • Lorigami

    Ok. Tires are something I have in abundance here since my husband races, but I have to admit, I’m a little leery of using them for potatoes because I’m worried about whatever’s IN them leaching OUT of them. Am I just being super paranoid? Tires would be so much easier than building more boxes out of pallets. Help???

  • Meghan

    I usually just have a container garden, because I live in a 6th floor apartment (with a balcony, though!) Last summer we were gone for 2 weeks, and I had someone come over every few days to water the plants, which was fine. But I feel like 2 three week periods in the summer is asking a bit much. July and August are the best gardening months anyway! Farmers markets and CSAs it is. :-) I can do a workshare at my local CSA, which is great.

  • Lynn D.

    I just came across the concept of wintersowing seeds in the blog, A Chicken in Every Granny Cart. I’d never heard of the concept before but it makes perfect sense and is great for people who don’t have sunny windows to start seed indoors. Check it out.

  • Sayward

    @ Callie – Well, that photo is not of my own yard – but we do have them coming up all over. =)

    Congratulations on the new house! That’s so exciting. As for shade gardening, that’s a tough one. There are some possibilities (herbs and leafy greens come to mind), but I suggest just googling around for ‘gardening in shade’ or something along those lines. To be honest, you’ll be limited. Could you potentially do a container setup at the front of the house or in some other, sunnier area? Fresh homegrown tomatoes are just soooo amazing!

    @ Farmingtheburbs – Do containers! Then they can come with you! (and good luck with the house)

    @ daoine o’ – Ooh, good luck with your first garden! My first few were utter failures, so don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t work out (though I’m sure it will all be great) I’m interested to hear how the potato tires work for you, so please let me know at the end of the season!

    @ TeanyTinyStar – Ditto!

    @ Leah – Get elaborate! You can do so, so much in containers. Tomatoes do really well, as do lettuces and even root veggies You can also do really cool intensive stuff – a whole bunch all together in the same pot. You should give it a go!

    @ Stephanie – You can do it! Good luck. =)

    @ Salekdarling – Sorry about the long winter, lady. =( I’d hold off a bit to start the seedlings, but you can go ahead and start them early inside. By the time their ready to go out, the weather will have caught up!

    @ Lorigami – Don’t worry about being paranoid, it’s a very valid question and one I had myself. I looked into the issue and my understanding is that the [admittedly limited] studies that have been done, show that heavy metals do *not* transfer from the tires to the veggies. There have been a couple studies done, and there was nothing that made me afraid to use this technique. Plus there are tons of testimonials all over the internet form people who do it. And also, the potatoes I grew myself last year were seriously, the best potatoes I’ve EVER eaten. Totally worth it. =)

    @ Meghan – Ah well, farmers market and CSA is pretty awesome, anyway!

    @ Lynn D. – I just did a little poking around and that looks like an interesting technique. I look forward to exploring it – thanks for the link!

  • gingersnap

    We are still months–MONTHS–away from planting season here in Vermont (although this year I’ll be building cold frames to shorten the wait somewhat), but I am busy planning my seed order. Very envious of those of you who can see signs of spring.

    If you like the tire/potato idea but don’t have tires or room to store them off-season, check out this idea:

  • Sayward

    @ gingersnap – Oh man! =( Well, at least you can plot and plan and buy your seeds. And thanks for the link!