Tag Archives: gardening

Seedlings

As I sit here writing this, with our son learning how to make popping noises by sucking his tongue, the trees outside are coated in sticky white snow and the chickens can’t remember what they did in this stuff two weeks ago. I cringe thinking of all the gardens that I saw started during our warm spell — apparently some people forgot that we live in New England.  I can only hope that they left themselves enough seed and desire to replant after the first full moon in May, when the danger of all frost is gone. Its sad to see people become disenchanted with gardening due to a simple mistake.

Things are starting to ease into the frenzy that is spring planting season around here. Tomato, broccoli, onions, and green pepper seedlings have all been planted. So far we’ve had great success with the broccoli and tomatoes. The onions and peppers, not so much. If all else fails, I’ll buy onions at the market and pepper seedlings from a local greenhouse again. Here’s hoping I can finally get the lettuce going this weekend.

In all reality, it won’t be that long before we see these little shoots showing up once more.


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Garden Planning – Stage II: Companion Planting

Companion planting is a very natural concept. If you look out in the wild, you never see one form of plant by its lonesome. Daisies, black-eyed susans, clover, and buttercups amongst others interweave into these communities of flowers. Maples, ash, willow, and pine mingle through the woods, rarely sanding aloof from one another. The plants that you do see by themselves look alone, deprived, and normally have a harder go at it than those mixed into a society of flora and fauna. Companion planting takes this idea that plants should not be segregated from one another and works towards growing plants with one another in a helpful, semi-self-sustainable type of gardening.

We’ve decided to take this route with our gardening plans this year.
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Plant Zones

There are many different ways that people can look at gardening. For some gardening is a decorative piece added to a house, beautiful plants growing along the fence and maybe a few plant pots on the window sill. To others, gardening is a fun summer project that they smile about when telling others about their small five by ten plot in their yard. For those that are working at becoming more self sufficient, gardening is a part time job that is not only an art, but a science all of its own.

For us, gardening is definitely a mix of the first and second ideas, but very much so the latter. As we work to be a self sufficient household, what we grow is becoming more and more important to us, as well as how much we grow. The first thing that we really had to put some thought and time into is what hardiness zone we’re in. The majority of folks here in the states follow the USDA’s plant hardiness zone map, which is made up of eleven different zones, nine of which are split into portions ‘a’ and ‘b,’ giving a total of 20 different growing zones.

USDA Plant Hardiness Map

 

Maine is covered with zones 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, and 6. Looking at the map below, it’s interesting to see that you can almost note the topography from the state just by the zones themselves. For us here in Norridgewock, we’re in zone 4b.

Maine Hardiness Zones

 

Not only is it important to keep what zone you are live in at the forefront when picking out perennial plants for your garden patches, but the timing of the first frost and last frost can also be estimated based on the zone that you grow in.

Frost dates in Maine are roughly along these lines:

Zone 3: Last frost – 1 May to 31 May; First frost – 1 September to 30 September

Zone 4: Last frost – 1 May to 30 May; First frost – 1 September to 30 September

Zone 5: Last frost – 30 March to 30 April; First frost – 30 September to 30 October

Zone 6: Last frost – 30 March to 30 April; First frost – 30 September to 30 October

Additional frost dates can be found at the Avant-Gardening.