An Early Start To My Garden!

This is the time of the year where I get so excited about starting to work in my garden. As I’ve mentioned before, I use the Wyatt-Quarles Planting Guide when planting my seeds and plants, and I’ve been watching it closely to see when I can plant. And it’s time! I don’t know that I’ve ever put seeds in the ground this early, but I’m going to give it a shot and see how it goes. I usually wait until closer to the end of February, but according to the chart, many cool weather crops can be planted starting on February 1st.

I’m really curious to see if my onions do better if I start them this early. I’ve grown onions twice. The first time two years ago was a success. I planted in very late February, but we also had a very cold May and June, so I think they had plenty of time to put their energy into developing the bulb of the onion before it warmed up and the plant starting flowering/going to seed.

Last year, I got a late start and I don’t think I planted until early March? Then we had a normal spring that warmed up as usual. I had beautiful green tops to my onions, but the bulbs were tiny and pretty useless. The greens all started going to seed. Onions will spend lots of time putting their energy into the green part of the plant before the days get longer and it puts energy into the bulb. I have never grown straight from seed, but started from onion sets again this year. (I would love to hear from anyone who has experience planting straight from seed.)

I went to my garden, armed with my garden plan. I haven’t put anything on it yet for this year because I wanted to take a look at it and visualize where I wanted to place some plants this year.

Welcome, old friend! My garden is brown and dormant right now, but starting to see signs of life as my strawberries are turning green after their winter nap! I’ll put a fresh layer of mulch on everything when it gets a little warmer.

Usually my garden is off limits to my chickens, but I lured them in there today so they could do a little clean up while I worked. They ate up every little green plant that was scattered throughout the mulch and started scratching around in the beds, moving the soil around for me.

Now it was time to get my box ready for my onions. I do Square Foot Gardening (SFG) and most of my boxes are 4 foot x 4 foot. I chose my box and first dumped a bag of manure on it. With SFG, once your soil mixture has been established, you only need to add compost to it each year. I usually like to add a combination of composts, but this is what I had on hand. I’ll continue to fertilize this box as onions can be heavy feeders. I dumped the manure and then worked it into my box with a shovel.

After I smoothed it out, it was time to plant my onion sets. SFG says that you can plant 9 onions per square foot. So I started laying my onions out in that pattern. That means I would be able to fit 144 onions total in my box. Even though I had bought 2 packs of onions sets (160 total), many didn’t look healthy and I planted about 100 total.

I then pushed them about 1-1.5 inches into the ground with the root side down (you can usually see little root hairs to indicate which side is the root).

I had some room left in my box, so I used that to plant some carrots. I checked my Companion Planting Chart to make sure onions and carrots play nice together! For my carrots, I just sprinkled them over the top of the soil and barely covered them with soil. I’ll be diligent to make sure they stay moist this week so they can germinate. Carrots are tricky that way!

Then I planted another pack of carrots in my round fire rings that I use for planting. I bought these last year and they were SO great for growing plants!

My companion in my garden today!

As I was working, I noticed some marigold heads that I missed last year. They are nice and dry now, so I plucked those off and later on, added them to my jar of dried marigold seeds. I also found some tulip bulbs in my seed bin that I forgot to plant, so I put those in the ground. I don’t think they’ll do anything this year, but hopefully they’ll produce next spring!

My next objective is to plan out my garden for this year so I can order any other seeds I need. But tomorrow, my sugar snap peas should arrive and I will get those in my ground! They are one of my very favorite vegetables to grow! Can’t wait for another successful garden year!

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