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Early Spring at PCR...

If you are anything like we are, early Spring is a busy time of year. We are sorting through last year's seeds, planning out our garden beds and starting seeds in the plant room downstairs. We are always trying to find the perfect balance - when to start plants, when to put them out to harden off, when to trust mother nature and when to just go with your gardening gut.

Sure, it can be tempting to plant too early (we've certainly been guilty of this), especially when the winter is mild and the warmer temperatures have arrived. Don't be fooled....always check the "last frost date" for your area and plant accordingly. It's far better to be patient than deal with a whole crop that was ruined because of frost. Some varieties can be planted out before the last frost day including kale, lettuce, chard and peas. In fact, we've found they actually prefer it cold. We get a crop before it gets too hot here in Virginia. You can also plant your potatoes, onions and shallots now too.

We spent last weekend upgrading our "Veg" garden beds from mounded to raised beds. Each bed is 16 feet long, 2.5 feet wide and 16" tall. We made them using 4x4" posts for each corner and corrugated metal for the sides. We added 1/2" metal conduit pipe on the sides, both for stability and so we can add covers in the fall and spring for each bed. There will be 12 raised beds in all. We will add the drip irrigation and timer after the last frost. The beds will be filled a mixture of the current garden soil, new garden soil and compost. We plan to fill them 1/2 way this season and continue to add good nutrients such as compost, hay and well rotted manure each Fall and Spring, until they are at the depth we want.

When the weather isn't cooperating for outdoor improvements, we spend time down in our plant room, sorting through our seeds, looking through seed catalogs, making garden charts and placing orders for new garden goodies. One of the best tips I can give is to be as organized as possible. We purchased filing boxes and index cards to file our seeds by type, alphabetically. This helps with cost, as we know what we have and won't purchase additional seeds of the same type, as well as, planning new beds and spaces. I also like to be able to quickly research what varieties we have already grown so we can either grow additional plants of the same variety or try something new! We have made "to scale" drawings of each of our gardens. The beds are left blank so we can make copies to fill in each year. We know exactly the size and space we have and can plant accordingly.

So just remember a few patient, be organized and put in a little hard work. Your garden will reward you for it!

Happy Gardening!

- The Pirate Chicken

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