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From the Garden Plot: The When and What
Features - The Home Farmer
Written by Alicia Ghio   
As a former journalist it’s instinctual for me to look at situations in simple terms: who, what, when, where, why and how. I’m approaching my garden with a similar mind-set.
Who: Me and my he-said-he-was-willing-to-help husband.
Where: In the left side yard just a few steps from our back patio.
How: In a raised bed design loosely following the Square Foot Gardening method.
This week I set out to answer when and what.
When to plant
Before I could really think about what to plant I needed to find out when: When is the last frost date in my zip code? I’ve learned that this date determines your entire planting calendar. Crops like tomatoes and peppers are very susceptible to frost damage so it's safest to wait until after the last frost date to transplant these crops into the garden. On the other hand, crops that are cold-hardy, like broccoli and kale, can be transplanted into the garden a couple of weeks before the last average frost date. From what I could find out online, the last frost date in my area is somewhere between May 15th  and May 26th. Interestingly, my Italian grandmother always started her garden after the last full moon in May, which just happens to be May 27th this year.
What to plant
This is the fun part, but it’s not as easy as I thought it would be. For an omnivore, I truly enjoy a whole lot of vegetables. Thus, I’m throwing caution to the wind and going for a 4ft x 8ft bed instead of 4ft x 4ft.
Helping me plot it all out is a fun, interactive tool on the Gardener’s Supply Co. website (see above image, click to enlarge).  And while it’s not written in stone, I think I’ve narrowed down my  choices: tomatoes, tomatillos, pole beans, onions, cucumbers, radishes, leaf lettuces, swiss chard, kale, bell peppers, hot peppers, zucchini, winter squash, eggplant and beets. Oh, wait I forgot about broccoli. Hmmm, this may take some more thought…
Well, one thing I know for sure is that since I am a garden newbie I don’t want to solely rely on my seed starting skills. I’m going to start some crops from seed indoors, but also buy some seedlings from a local nursery.
Next on my to-do list: Seeds.


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