Spring Planting 2011

The rain this spring in Oregon’s Willamette Valley has been relentless, and at this point in time, May 31st, there is no end in sight.  It’s made it very difficult to get outside and get outdoor projects completed.  Still, I managed to get my seeds and plants in the ground by the first week in May, and a few of my projects have been started. If we could just get one or two full weekends of good weather, I would be able to finish them.

This year I paid more attention to companion planting.  I found the website www.usagardener.com  that I really like.  It gives me information I need about the vegetables I am planting, and it suggests tips for companion planting.  The internet is great for gardeners.  One can pick and choose the information needed and save time and money not having to buy complete gardening books that overload your mind and your bookshelves. 

Every year I do a complete tilling of my beds (well, my friend Ron does it for me actually, so he deserves the credit), and this year I added cow manure.  I found the best dairy farm for manure out at Harold’s Dairy.  It’s located between Springfield and Creswell at 83647 Dale Kuni Rd. off of Hwy 99.  Call 541-895-4362 first before going out there.  It’s just $10.00 for a pickup load, and it’s the best manure I’ve seen yet.  No trash or debris mixed in.  

To get a better idea of where to plant and how to space my rows, I like to use sticks and poles to map out the areas first.  Since I took companion planting into consideration this year, this is how I planned my vegetable beds: In the first bed I planted lettuces, spinach, Swiss chard, beets, leek, and onions with radishes and cilantro on each end.  In the other bed I planted my broccoli, dill, hot peppars, bell peppers, and tomatoes, with eggplant and basil on each end. My other veggies are in other parts of my garden.

I have a huge problem with slugs and snails, so I tried to outwit the slugs this year by covering my plantings with plastic gallon containers in the evenings.   Eventually I hope to get rid of the timbers I have around my beds because they provide a moist home to the slugs.  I’ll put in 1 x 4’s instead, or maybe even use large cement blocks.  I haven’t decided yet.   In the meantime, I also have to resort to using some slug bait.  Unfortunately, by the time you spend money on expensive slug bait, it adds so much cost to growing food that you really don’t save much.   However, with the high price of organic vegetables, you still end up saving some money, and most importantly you reduce your carbon footprint by making less trips to the grocery store. 

This third photo shows my snow pea and bean trellises.  I’ve found this method using poles and large fencing wire to work the best for me.  It really supports the vines well and is high enough.  I have used straw for years as mulch to keep moisture in and the weeds down.  When weeds and grass do grow up through the straw, they are easy to pull out.  I got my idea of using straw for mulch from Ruth Stout who is probably the best known gardener for using hay as mulch.  Her mulching methods are supposed to reduce the amount of work in the garden while building up the soil naturally.  I don’t use hay, but straw works great as mulch, and eventually I do want to incorporate more of Stouts method into my gardening to try and reduce my work load as I get older.  Check out this good article for a little history on Ruth Stout:  http://www.homestead.org/barbaraBambergerScott/RuthStout/RuthStout%20-TheNo-DigDuchess.htm 

Check out my next post in June to see how my straw covered beds look several weeks later.

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