Garden Gardening Tips parsley potatoes (minor mentions) See my garden and borders in various seasons. spring

Garden Talk – mid-April

Looking at the garden from a distance there’s not much too see. Nonetheless, I took pictures so you can get an idea of what’s going on.

The tall blue/green is winter rye.  That’s where most of the tomato plants will go.

The low light green is mache flowering and going to seed.  (It’s hiding the winter lettuce from view.)

The light purplish haze to the right are the blueberry bushes that are keeping the bumblebees busy.

The wheelbarrow of straw I’m getting ready to take into the garden.

The buckets of rain water I’ve moved to the entrance so when I transplant more seedlings I can fill the watering can without having to go over to the rain barrels across the yard. (I usually don’t water-in seedlings but it’s been a little drier this year.)

Approaching my garden entrance gate.

Below is my attempt at a photoshop drawing. Pretty bad drawing, but it still gives you a better idea of the garden layout than the photo does.

The garden’s approximately 40 by 60 feet. The beds and paths are permanent. There is a center path down the middle. And there’s a border of at least two feet from the fence (all the way around) so the beds won’t run right to the fence and so I’ll have room to walk.

My photoshop drawing of the garden layout.

The Unknowing Visitor

Folks who know only conventional gardening and end up on my property for one reason or the other are prone to thinking they’re looking at weeds.

A lady last year who saw my garden in April asked me a month or so later if I ever got my garden into shape. I just laughed and said “It was never out of shape.” I’m sure that puzzled her, but there was no point in explaining.

The fellow who is going to cut my grass this year was here about a week ago to cut for the first time. (My friend who cut it last year moved to Florida.)

Anyway – he glanced over and said “I see your garden’s like mine. I haven’t done anything either.”

What he did see growing, I guess he thought was grass or weeds. And the new seedlings of onions (over a thousand), lettuces, rapini, collards, beets, radishes, parsley, cilantro, cabbage and peas were too small to see. Even potato growth is still small and not visible unless you’re right next to it.

Below are some close ups of various things so you can see there really is something growing:

Endive/escarole lettuce.

The endive/escarole lettuce is one I’d not want to be without in the winter.  Even without protection it can make it through.  But with a bit of protection you’ll be eating it all winter.  I had planned some for bean soup like Lisa makes (you remember Lisa from this post), but every time I’d harvest with soup in mind, I’d end up eating it fresh.

Small bunches of onion seedlings.

Using Extra Seedlings

I ran out of space for onions before I ran out of seedlings.  So I planted a few small bunches in various available spots. Being so close together they’ll stay small but will make nice sets for me to replant in the fall for spring onions.

Winter Density lettuce surrounded by flowering mache.

Wow! Better than Lettuce!

I had an unexpected visit from a young friend (24 years old) yesterday about 45 minutes before dark.  I picked lettuce while we chatted.  As I harvested, he said, “Aren’t you going to let me sample some lettuce, Mrs. Martz?”

I couldn’t help but smile.  I know he loves mache, but I didn’t realize he likes my lettuce too.  After a dozen or so leaves of Winter Density and Sierra Batavia, he said, “Wow! that’s better than lettuce!”  I replied, “It is lettuce.”

Of course, what he meant was – it’s better than store bought lettuce  – which has no flavor at all.


I started Rapini (sorta like brocolli but doesn’t make a head) seedlings in mid February.  I transplanted half to the garden the first week in March.  The very next night was below 20 degrees.  The Rapini had not even had a chance to recover from being transplanted.  Needless to say, I lost it.

I left the rest of the seedlings (which remained in the jug)  in the garden for the next couple of weeks and then transplanted to the place I’d lost the others.

This is my first time growing it.

Strawberries, parsley from last year, mache flowering.

I have three parsley plants growing from last year. Never can get enough parsley no matter how many I plant.

parsley seedlings

Happy Ending for Beets Planted in February

Started to plant these parsley seedlings the other day in a spot where I had sown beets back in February.  Thought the beets were not gonna come up.  I was surprised to see them up about an inch and looking great. Had to find other spots for the parsley.

The first beets to go in the garden were seedlings that I transplanted to soon.  Lost them.  Waited a couple of weeks and put more in.  They’re doing great.

Peas breaking the ground.


The first peas I planted were pre-germinated.  They’re still just barely coming up.  The other plantings of peas (4 total) the seeds were soaked over night and then sown.  They’re all coming up as shown in the photo above.

Mako onion seedlings.

Onions from Seed

I plant so many onions every year that I try to schedule transplanting with rain so I won’t have to water them with my watering can.  No rain came this year.  I still waited 3 days – hoping for rain.  Finally gave in and did the task.  The next day, I could tell the difference.

By the way, notice how nice and tall the seedlings are?  So many folks promote the idea that seedlings started from seed need to be cut back.  I NEVER cut mine back and they do wonderfully as you can see.

Breen and Sierra Batavia lettuce.

Lettuce Seedlings

We had a nice shower tonight that was not expected.  Tomorrow I’ll see a difference in these seedlings.  It’s always fun to see the amazing growth that takes place after a rain.

A closer look: Winter rye, mache flowering, sorrel (it’s 3rd year) between the mache and the blueberry bush.


Garden from the top end looking “across” the rows.

From this view, you can see some garlic growing.

Still have the bricks in the garden that anchored the row covers. Also, I’m in the process of removing the hoops and concrete reinforcing wire supports.

Found the first asparagus today.  It’ll be a while before I get enough each day for a meal.

Final Thought

Anything interesting to report about YOUR garden?  I’d love to hear it, as would your fellow TMG readers.


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  • Looking good! As usual I have high hopes for my garden this year and it’s looking pretty good. I do have an onion question. My seedlings did really well this year–strong little things in the wintersown jugs. But after I planted them, they gradually disappeared? Do voles or rabbits get them? Do you think I planted too early? Feb 26. I’m thinking too early?? Ah well I bought some sets and they are doing fine. I will try again next year.

  • In southwest Nova Scotia (near Mahone Bay and near the water where we dont get as much heat as inland): My garlic is just peeking above the seaweed mulch. Mache is far from flowering. Haven’t bothered to look for the rhubarb or asperagus yet, but will look hard today. Still have a patch of snow where the plow piled it high at the edge of the woods. Everything is rather beige as lawns haven’t greened up yet. A vole ate its way through my tiny greenhouse in early winter so I’ve been buying greens at the Farmers Market. A good deal, nonetheless, I’d say. Happy Spring!

  • Theresa,

    I want to thank you for that “map” of your garden! I have always wondered what the layout is. Do the beds run east to west or north to south?

    I have had quite a few asparagus, and have started giving it away. We prefer to eat it fresh, so we aren’t freezing it anymore. The only thing I would do with frozen spears is make creamed soup. OH! I will have a new project this year: digging up johnsongrass. One corner of the asparagus bed is being taken over.

    My peas have been very sluggish in coming up. I should have soaked them. I may try one more planting, but soaking this time.

    I love the pictures! Keep them coming!

  • Betty, although it certainly could be voles, it’s probably not.

    Transplants that we start from seed ourselves in January usually have 2 or 3 leaves about that time (February) and can be lost easily to severe temperatures. I’ve had it happen to me and they just literally seem to disappear.

    Transplants with 4 or 5 leaves usually make it through the cold of February (at least in my zone 7) just fine.

    Happy Spring to you too Heather! I hope it reach you soon!
    Never heard of a vole chewing through something like a greenhouse. Could it be a mouse?
    In either case, why not set a trap (bait with peanut butter or apple) and find out?
    I’d love to know your results.

    Pat, if you’ll look at the bottom of page 237 and top of 238 in my book, I addressed this thing about bed positioning. My current beds run east to west but not “perfectly” east to west. The beds at my previous garden ran north to south (but not “perfectly”). I positioned them the way it “felt” right and worked for me.

    Your peas will probably be ok without soaking, especially if you’ve had nice spring rains. I don’t always soak the seed.
    Sometimes, if you soak and plant too early when it’s too cold your seed can rot before it germinates.

    I go by what’s going on in general with the weather in any given year.

    Glad you like the pictures and found the drawing of the garden helpful. It is indeed much more clear about layout than photos are.


  • Theresa, voles are a common problem in greenhouses and gardens here and are rather difficult to trap, though a professional market gardener said to try a trap with oatmeal and peanut butter. Next winter. It may be a mouse too. Whatever it was made a nice little nest for itself by shredding some of my row cover inside the greenhouse.

    Do you get ticks where you are? I’m wondering if they come in the straw. They’re spreading, along with Lyme disease, in our area, but we haven’t seen them where we live, and I’m concerned about where I source straw.

  • Theresa,
    Thank you so much for the garden layout map and the beautiful photos of your garden. I just can’t seem to get enough of that 🙂
    Today we are building some trellises for my garden. I am so excited. I love to grow scarlet runner beans for the hummingbirds, they just go crazy for the flower nectar.
    I have mache that we have been munching on. It isn’t flowering yet. I have some asparagus starting to pop up. I’m so looking forward to that. My cherry tree, Asian pear,Hollywood plum, and pluot trees are all blossoming nicely. I had some Russian kale sprout on its own as well. I have planted out garlic and onions that are doing well. My strawberries have cute baby fruit. The raspberries are starting to leaf out. I have 3 shelves full of peppers, tomatoes, spinach, cilantro, lettuce, dill, and marine heliotrope under lights. Oh and I started sunflower under lights so the mice and rabbits don’t eat them as they sprout outside. It all gets me so excited.

  • Heather, we do have ticks here. I hate them! I think everyone does.
    I would think they could be almost anywhere and as you mentioned, the “source” of the
    straw could be the problem.
    I’ve been using straw for almost 40 years and have never had a problem with ticks that
    can be attributed to the straw.

    The varmint in your greenhouse sounds like a mouse to me especially after you mentioned it making a nest. Voles pretty much stay under ground and I doubt you wouldn’t find a nest.

    Toni, you have so many wonderful things going on! What a fabulous season you’re gonna have.
    Thanks for sharing the excitement!


  • Always love your articles. Thanks for the continued information and gardening/life encouragement. A question: after I harvest the garlic in the early summer, do you have any suggestions on what to follow that with in a raised bed in Gloucester, Va. Is there any vegetable that doesn’t like growing after garlic?
    Thanks in advance.

  • I used a mix of cover crops this year but the rye seems pretty tough. What do you do with yours before you plant tomatoes?

  • Hello Theresa, thanks for sharing your garden pictures. I think it is a beautiful healthy, growing, and ever changing work of art.

    I put my garden in on March 22 down here in dry parched Florida. Of course I had to go out of town 2 days later but I remembered to mulch with straw heavily to try to keep in some moisture. My husband watered when I asked him to and I am now already picking winter density and a red lettuce. Oh and my spinach leaves are as large as my hand. I already have tomatoes on my plants and they have lots of flowers on each plant. The only problem seems to be my cukes, they look healthy but are short and not ready to vine….not sure what’s going on there. Just put in my first planting of carrots and will follow up with some pots with green peppers and zucchini. I have high hopes for a great spring garden.
    I will be in touch in a few months on growing my cover crop in July and August.
    Thanks again

  • Maryethel, I’m sure there are many things you could plant after garlic. Beans come to mind right away. Tomatoes, cukes, and squash could also follow.
    If any vegetable doesn’t like growing after garlic, II don’t know what it is.

    Bonny, rye IS pretty tough!! That’s why you never want to plant winter rye without a strategy.
    This post will tell you exactly what I do:

    Bonnie, sounds like your garden is going great! Keep it up and I’ll look forward to a great report in a few months.


  • Nice to see some garden greening even if not mine. Too early for me yet but I did plant some lettuce, beet, kale and Swiss chard seeds last week in tunnels. A bit early but you don’t know if you don’t try. Starting things indoors has worked well this year and if the weather would co-operate I’d try some seedlings in tunnels. We were visiting some of the kids over the weekend and put row cloth over the plastic because the temperature looked edgy. Time will tell and excitement is building. Enjoy your garden

    Ray Kent

  • Thank you so much for the photos and all of the details about your garden. I look forward to your information and make use of your many valuable ideas. Good going on the Photoshop sketch, that can be some challenging software. Just a suggestion, if you want to simply block out a “map”, you can also use Excel, it makes great “boxes” and you can type right inside the “box”. No need to reply.
    Thanks for everything. Madeleine

  • I still need to double-dig some more beds.

    After seeing that so many of your customers loved the purple asparagus best, I planted some as soon as possible early this spring & can’t believe how many are coming up already! Such a difference than the beds I had planted before I found your Blog!

    I’m glad I saw your picture of the parsley with the strawberries. I have room in my strawberry bed for the parsley seedlings I was trying to find a spot for!

    I’m more excited about gardening this year than ever before, because of all I’ve learned from you!

    God Bless You,

  • Do you have a list of items you start indoors as seed and what are seeded directly into the garden?

  • Aileen, no list per se.
    But you can start most anything in flats inside or direct seed to the garden. I’ve started just about every seed I can think of — both ways.
    It mostly depends on variables and weather conditions at the time.
    Also, when I germinate seed inside it goes outside immediately after it germinates as I have no place inside to grow seedlings. (See this post – to learn more.)

    Hope this help.

  • Gardening is just plain weird here in Southern Ontario in many areas. So much rain or cloud can’t seem to get 2 sunny days together. Everything is growing different this year. Lettuce is doing fine but chard which usually grows like a weed just sits there. Won’t grow and won’t die. Kale just about the same. Tomato blossoms don’t seem to be opening fully but some tomatoes are showing but small. Parsnips look happy. In any case I believe a few days of real sun will turn things around and sometime you just have to believe.

    Happy gardens

    Ray Kent

  • Great post Ray. Thanks for taking time to share what’s going on your way.
    Just more evidence that after we do our part (like the 3 “keys”) we just have to let nature do whatever she’s going to do.
    Hope you get the few days of sunshine.

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