My garden in February 2012

A garden is an ever-changing thing. This year, I am going to make some big changes in the garden. Here is my to-do list:

My raised bed planter on the side of the house in February 2011.

Move the raised bed planter. This requires moving asparagus, which I don’t like to do, but we have decided to move the planter down, so the asparagus has to be replanted. We have several reasons for moving the planter, and I am glad we are doing it. It will be moved south to where the box is in the above photo (touching the other planter area). Some of it will stay put, but most of it will be moved.

Take out the dead Stella cherry tree and replace it with a new one (it died from a water leak from our valve box last summer). This is a horrible loss and we are quite sad over it. I already moved the calla lily starts that were growing under it; I hope they make it in their new location under the fig tree. They are small and young and have never flowered yet; these were a share from someone’s garden in town.

Take out the Liberty apple tree. As much as it pains me to remove not just a living tree, but one that shares the same name as one of my children, this tree has never given us any apples. I will replace the tree with another Early Elberta peach. The Early Elberta peach tree has been the best fruit tree in my garden, yielding me enough to can a few quarts each year. A second tree would be wonderful.

Take out the pomegranate. Relocate it and/or plant another pomegranate tree in a different location that isn’t overshadowed by other trees, including the neighbor’s trees.

Relocate 3 grape vines. I hope they make it; grape vines have lots of roots and they grow deep. They need more sun. I only know where one of them will go (into the raised bed planter), so I will have to figure out what to do with the other two.

Take out the tangerine tree that has never done well.

Take out the lemon that froze last year. It has started to regrow, but it will take quite some time, as it lost all of its branches. I may move this tree if I can find a place for it.

Add more manure and compost to the garden. In several places, the dirt has settled greatly in the last 5 years, and it 6 inches lower than where it started.

Borage and Chamomile in the garden. Both reseeded themselves.

Add at least one more blackberry plant to the garden, and several more if funds permit.

Add at least 2 more blueberry bushes to the garden, and more if funds permit.

Reseed the bare spots in the lawn.

I am going to focus on planting more of what I know works, and less experimental seeds of varieties that sound intriguing, but that may or may not work. Just because a variety of lettuce says, “heat tolerant” or “bolt resistant” doesn’t mean it won’t bolt in April when it’s 90º! (It will!) I am planning to stick with more tried and true varieties this year. I hope this means more success this year.

I also will be planting more flowers this year. I want to be able to bring flowers in from the garden even more than I did last year.

Are you planting any new fruit trees, bushes, or vines this year?

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  1. Lea, I have a very shady front yard too and struggled to grow anything there last year. The only plants that didn’t die were Astilbe and Hydrangeas. This year I’m hoping to add switchgrass, irises, geranium rozanne, dwarf mock orange, and more hydrangeas. Nothing is edible, unfortunately, but I may try adding in cabbage or swiss chard and see if they’ll grow. You might also want to try growing begonias or helleborus. Here’s a link for shade perennials:

  2. I am also in Alabama, zone 7b/8a. Greens and Brassicas are great to overwinter here. Last year I had lettuce for salad almost all winter, and chard. This year I have broccoli, collards, and Red Russian kale -all the bugs got killed in the mild frost, but the hardy veggies don’t mind a bit. My fall-planted carrots are still growing, but so slowly, they are too tiny to eat. I planted bulb onions in October, hopefully they will be ready to pull in spring. Many perennial herbs do well, too -my rosemary and thyme are going strong from last year, and the mint has not died back yet. I put in some Roman chamomile that is very pretty green but has not flowered yet. Sugar Snap peas or shelling peas, and lettuces or mesclun are good to start in late Jan/early Feb depending on your zone. I really recommend Pete Melby’s “hot humid South” gardening guide at

  3. I have to confess that I’m a little nervous about it, but we plan to leave our garden fallow this year. We have never done that before, but after much talk and prayer, we think it’s the right thing to do. We have had so many problems with deer, rabbits, etc. and I think the soil needs some replenishing as well. We have rabbits and chickens,and I can get all the horse and alpaca manure I want, so I plan to do a lot of tilling. My husband wants to put a taller fence around the whole thing and/or build more ‘hoop houses’. We do have one hoop house that we plan to plant with the things that do well here – lettuces, carrots, onions, zucchini and green beans. I have success with chard, but my family won’t eat it, so I just grow some to feed to my hens. Meanwhile, I need to do some work in the orchard too, so we’ll be plenty busy. We also want to do some landscaping, as we can manage and afford it.I usually do a lot of canning and freezing, so I will be watching sales for opportunities to purchase tomatoes, corn, etc. to put up.

  4. I want to go through my seeds and decide what to buy. I want to order them during the next month. I bought a lot of seeds on a clearance sale for 25 cents a packet last fall, and tried to buy things that I use constantly. I hope to save some serious money there and order less.My husband built a mini greenhouse on our deck a few years ago. It is made from sticks and plastic, and was never intended to be anything but temporary. He hopes to re-do the plastic since it is getting tattered, and make it last a little longer. It’s been at least 4 years so far–a nice surprise I plan to start peppers and onions in late January/early February and tomatoes in February. I usually start several other plants in February or March. Things like squash wait until April since we can’t plant things out until May or even June. We live at a little elevation and sadly our garden is located where spring run-off keeps it soggy until later. Last year, my husband built me 4 large raised beds in the enclosed larger garden area (deer are a problem). I want to maintain them by getting rid of weeds between them and making sure they are well-composted. I did add compost this past fall as I removed spent vegetation, but have a few areas that still need it. I am trying to overwinter Walla Walla onions. Time will tell how it turns out. I want to put chips around them again. We got the tree trimmer people that were trimming the trees in our area to dump the chips in a pile on the edge of our field. They did it a couple of times. So, that’s what I’ll use. The raised beds were an experiment last year to see if we could plant earlier since they would not be as soggy as the main garden.The berries need tied up and pruned. We have razzberries, blackberries, boysenberries and thornless blackberries. I have a few blueberries that look terrible…..we’ll see if I can figure that out. We have a pruning guide from the extension office to look at. I have 2 rows of grapes. 1 row is extremely old and part of the supports have collapsed. I want that cleaned up, pruned, wild blackberries removed from it or I want it gone. The other grape row is from starts we started from our old place. The dirt is poor on all these fruit rows, and I need compost on them. I have a raised bed of strawberries. This year I want to divide them. Because of our elevation, we experimented with planting some tomatoes in cages with plastic on them in one raised bed last year. I want to try it again. I felt it caused us to get tomatoes. some years, I have planted up to 75 or 100 tomato plants and still had to bum off of my sister for enough to can. Last summer, I was able to can what I needed for the first time since moving to this new location, and even had some to give away. I can whole tomatoes, crushed, juice, sauce, salsa, and pizza sauce. However, my green beans were mediocre for the first time ever. I need to can about 100 quarts of them each year, so a big goal this year is to get enough of them.I also need to freeze broccoli, so I need to grow a bunch of that. I had bad luck with cucumbers last summer, so need to work on getting enough to pickle and eat fresh this year.Becky

  5. You are an inspiration as always! I am not LDS (lots of family member are though!) and you inspire me in my faith as well as just life stuff (cooking, gardening, homemaking, etc). I appreciate the time you take to answer questions- I really do look up to and respect what your family is doing! If I lived closer to you, I’d love to meet you but, alas, Denver is not near! Keep your chin up in 2013, and may God bless you and yours.

  6. Our nursery carries Santa Rosa plums. Santa Rosa and Green Gage are the only ones they carry that are self-fertile. All of the other plums require a pollinator. If you are only going to get one plum tree, make sure it is self-fertile, or you will never get any fruit.

  7. Hi!I do not think I will have a large garden this year.Our soil is really poor.I have spent a lot of money getting good top soil trucked in several times .But the garden never really took off.Also in our area there has been some new construction and the deers and rabbits have come from all over to our yard to eat the fruit trees up.I also had a weird tree virus that killed several trees that had to be cut down.So if I choice to garden I will have a clean slate.I do nor know totally what I am doing.Pat

  8. I would love to know how you use TP rolls to start seeds. I am envisioning cutting them in half and adding soil and seed, maybe draining into a pan. Does the cardboard hold up enough to seedling watering? Does it break down enough for root penetration if you plant it altogether? I don’t buy jiffy pellets anymore since they have non-boidegradable mesh to hold the peat together. They are also expensive. Lately I have been using small yogurt containers with a hole drilled into the bottom. My friend gave me these.Thanks.

  9. Margery, I haven’t tried it yet, this will be my first year. I’m taking the toilet paper rolls and folding one end, kind of like in gift wrapping, to form a bottom end. I’ll pack these tightly into the base of a milk carton and fill with soil. The milk carton will have drainage holes and I’ll leave the lid off so snow can get in. I know I will have to water it some as well. I’m combining two different ideas I have seen on pinterest and hoping it will work. I’m guessing the toilet paper rolls will hold up long enough to get to planting them and with how my trench composting worked last year, I’m pretty sure they will break down quickly enough. If they seem too tough, then I can just rip them apart when I set the plants.As to folding the rolls. I collapse 2 sides to meet in the center and that creates opposite points, sort of, that I then fold into the center. And then I reach my hand into the center and kind of smush it until it seems flat enough.Hope that helps. Penelope

  10. Oh what good suggestions! Thanks everyone!I had completely forgotten about larkspur but I have a relative that I can get seeds from so that one should be easy! Now we just have to look at options for the rest of it…. that’s the hard part, isn’t it? Happy gardening, planning and dreaming everyone,Lea

  11. Last year, I attempted my first raised veggie garden. I did a square foot garden and planted peas, beans, tomatoes, and zucchini. The zucchini, beans, and tomatoes did well. I only planted one round because I got busy with a new job in the fall. This year, I plan to expand and do more than one planting so we have more veggies. I want my garden to produce enough food so that we buy very little produce and save money. I did a lot of research last year on blueberry plants and then forgot to buy them in the fall. I still want to plant blueberries. I’ll have to do a little more research and see if I can plant them in the spring. I have a $25 Lowe’s gift card that I can use for supplies to get started. I’d love to have fruit trees one day.-Amie

  12. Your pictures are beautiful. This year I plan to start my first small vegetable garden. I look forward to visiting here a bit when I’m ready to plan for that later this spring!

  13. Marivene, when I lived in Oregon, there was a big holly farm about a mile up the road. They do grow tall. Holly grew well in Oregon but when we inquired about planting it in our yard, we were told you had to have two holly trees, one male and one female or one or the other close by if just planting one. We were not sucessful with our one plant.Also, we grew raspberries. They were the ever-bearing variety and we had a wonderful patch. One thing we put on all our garden veggies and our berries was a handful of epsom salt. Works great on roses too as well as coffee grounds and compost (from our compost pile). Teri

  14. Teri, when you say you were not successful, do you mean that it never had the red berries on it, or that it died? I know without 2 trees for pollination there will be no berries, but I think it might be a pretty addition to the landscape for free, just for the foliage. I know that epsom salts are a good source of magnesium, but we already have such a salt load in our soil that I prefer to avoid it. I use coffee grounds, aged manure, compost & banana peels. -Marivene

  15. Hi! I LOVE your daffodil border in the first photo! Absolutely amazing. I’ve planted daffodils for the first time this year and hope they look as good! My gardening changes this winter: I just took out my Knock-Out roses from my landscaping around the house and planted blueberry bushes alternating with loropetalum instead. With asparagus planted in the flower beds too. I’m not allowed to have anything that looks like a vegetable garden where I live, so I’m trying to be covert. :)Loved your site and will try to check back often! Happy New Year!

  16. Livinggracefully- it is coming from Raintree nursery. It is like a regular Santa Rosa, but weeping. And slightly smaller. And, according to Dave Wilson Nursery, who also sells it, slightly more delicious.

  17. Your daffodils are wonderful! I planted some orange and white daffodil bulbs this fall in a pot, so we’ll see if they come up this spring. Currently planning out my container garden. It got scorched last year (and I’m not even in the desert!), so the plants produced very, very little – a double handful of green beans and cherry tomatoes and ONE zucchini. At least my green onions survived, though I need to make them a little greenhouse for overwintering. I do have a question for you, I just started blogging… would you mind if I put a link to your blog on my list of favorites? I frequently tell people about your site and blog in person, so naturally I want to continue that digitally. Not that I have readers right now, but I still wanted to ask permission.-Chantal Williamson (from facebook)

  18. These are naturalizing dafodils, and I planted them several years ago; I really should have divided them this fall. I was just looking at pictures of them the last couple of years; there weren’t anywhere near as many as there were last year. It’s taken several years for them to get to be so full of blooms.You should be able to combine quite a few things for edible landscaping, so that it’s not obvious at all that what you are growing is edible. Your trees can be fruit trees, too. There are many choices for edible bushes and vines as well. Herbs fit in well with flowers and are pretty un-noticeable in the garden in the front yard; I had lots of herbs in the front yard at my last house (I have parsley in my front yard right now). Good luck!

  19. I haven’t looked at your blog or website for so long. I’m so glad I did. Its just lovely. You are such an incredible woman, juggling and living life so fully. Thank you for your powerful example. I love your projects, photography and such. Thank you for sharing! I hope all is well with your sweet family. I would love to connect with you again sometime and catch up! Onward, my sweet sister in Zion.

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