View from the Garden: Planning a Garden for Summer Enjoyment

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Today is the day I am ordering seeds and plants for my client’s vegetable gardens. I have looked at the catalogues and websites and made my choices. Though I have done this many times, I still must keep some basic things in mind.

I get so excited by all of the varieties and intrigued by the new things that I must remind myself to keep the size of the gardens that I will plant in mind, or I will have way too much seed. Careful and detailed planning now makes future steps of creating a garden much easier.

I have conferred with each client and made a list of the things they have requested. (Sometimes I add a surprise for them!) When you make your list, start with things you know you and your family actually like to eat and add a few experiments based on the amount of space in your garden.

Each kind of seed has specific growing circumstances. Use a seed catalogue that provides as much information as possible: description of the plant and fruit, how to start, when to plant, days to maturity, how much sun, vine or bush, potential diseases and insects. Knowing these things lets the gardener make a planting schedule. It is a very good idea to plan your plantings by the week and write this on a calendar. Succession planting can be scheduled on this calendar. Then, make a note of the actual date things are planted. I also put this date on the map that I make of each garden as I plant it. Keep in mind that the last official frost date in this area is May 15.

I order everything now—seeds for the first and successive plantings, onion and leek plants, seed potatoes, garlic, tomato seeds and plants, pepper and eggplant plants—as opposed to shopping in a store.

I also make note of the number and sizes of bamboo pieces I will need for stakes and trellises. This list might need some additions later in the season but I am off to a good start.

This year, I am ordering heirloom tomatoes and specialty hot peppers as plants from Territorial seeds. I have had good luck ordering plants and without a greenhouse, many varieties are still available to me. The plants will be sent based on planting time in this area.

I am also going to order summer bulbs at this time. I have looked at the bulb catalogues that came in the mail, but I only use Brent and Beck’s Bulbs. It has all of the things I need, and I know the quality is good. I plant a few cutting gardens and like to add a few lilies each year. I have a client who likes gladiolus and tuberoses, as do I.

If you are ordering roses, do it now. I have planted several rose gardens with plants ordered online. There are many kinds of roses available. They arrive as bare roots and have always done very well for me. Once again, get as much information as possible about each plant you like: what type of flower, what type of bush, height, disease resistance, how much sun, when does it bloom, etc…

Planning gardens and ordering seeds and plants now confirms that spring is actually coming soon. Preparing for the season involves gathering the tools, releasing pots from their winter confinement under tarps, stocking the truck, making lists of supplies that will be needed, attending to a huge pile of paperwork and cleaning and pruning my
own garden.

I would like to plant a vegetable garden at my house but to do that, I will need to build a fence to keep the deer out, connive something to keep the raccoons and squirrels out and clean out some flower beds to make some room. Years ago, deer did not visit my neighborhood and there was enough undeveloped area for the raccoons and squirrels so they did not need to bother me. I had a vegetable garden then and loved those “homegrown” green beans, lettuces and tomatoes. My neighbor and I experimented with melons on the fence, the “three sisters” and kiwis. I think I will make the effort.

Jeanelle Myers is a professional gardener, landscaper and consultant. For gardening discussion you can call her at 631-434-5067, or visit

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