Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Helping things grow

The Garden Song
written by David Mallett in 1975. - sung by the writer!

Inch by Inch
Row by Row
I'm gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and hoe
And a piece of fertile ground
Inch by Inch
Row by Row
Someone bless these seeds I soe
Someone warm them from below
Till the rain come tumblin down
Pulling weeds, picking stones
Man is made of dreams and bones
Feel the need to grown my own
Cause the time is close at hand
Painful rain, sun and rain
Find my way in nature's chain
Tune my body and my brain
To the music of the land
Plant your rows straight and long
Temper them with prayer and song
Mother earth will make you strong
If you give her love and care
Old crow wathing hungerily
From his perch in youder tree
In my garden im as free
As that feathered thief up there

I do have one issue with the lyrics, though... we cannot make the garden grow, though with knowledge, wisdom and insight we can help it. And that I how I sing this song, often, while working the rows, and even this time of the year as I begin to start seeds. So in this vein, I share:

Starwalker's Necessary Resources For Planning Your Garden

Average Last Spring Frost Date Ours here is June 1-10. 
This is the link for Maine. If you are in another state, copy this link and replace "Maine" with the full name of your state and then paste into your browser.

Average First Fall Frost Date Ours here is Sept 21-30
As above, this is the link for Maine. If you are in another state, copy this link and replace "Maine" with the full name of your state and then paste into your browser.

For some reason, the main page of the site only shows links for hardiness zones. In my mind, this is both confusing and misleading, as it actually only affects your choice of perennial plants. Zones relate to the average winter temperatures, which have no direct connection to the growing season for annual flowers, vegetables and herbs. It will affect which herbs you have to treat as annuals, as there are many that will overwinter in all but the coldest climates. In case you need it: For Perennials: Hardiness Zones
is the main site. scroll down for state hardiness maps, as well as those for many other parts of the world beyond the USA.  

This time of year we are likely all getting "planting fever" as we have had months now to pour over seed catalogues and to make our orders. 
will help you stay on track for starting your seedlings, if you chose to, and for planting out whether you grow your own or succumb to the lure of the displays at the greenhouse or your favorite big box store. There are two things to remember, when your green thumb starts itching:
  • Your home grown babies need to acclimate themselves to the temperatures and additional sunlight of the out of doors before being set in their rows! Hardening them off will take about 2 weeks, as the PennState Extension explains. 
  • Stock distribution for stores does not take local climates into account. In some cases, decisions are made on a national level for all the company's stores! So just because the tomatoe plants are on display in April, here in Maine, does not mean it's time to plant!
One of my local seed companies, Johnny's Selected Seeds, offers a wide variety of other useful tools for gardeners, as well. While they are more aimed at small to medium size commercial growers, I find them useful on a homestead scale as well. 

This seed and seedling calculator is a good tool if you have already decided how long your rows will be.  The only downside is that you have to choose one crop at a time. 

This PDF chart, while based on 100' rows (they also give info for an acre!) will allow you to do the math for whatever row length you use, and give you an estimate not only of the quantity of seed needed (by pound, for heavy seeds like beans and by count for the smaller ones) but also an estimated yield. They are just estimates, your mileage may vary!

Like the chart above, but for crops usually started as transplants.

And because everyone's estimates vary, I also include this Planting Chart for the Home Vegetable Garden from our own University of Maine Cooperative Extension Office. 

Happy planting and may your gardens be blessed by your efforts to help them grow.