Appalachia

My Sow True Seed Spring Garden

Sow True Seed spring veggies

A couple weeks ago, under the fruitful sign of Taurus we got our spring garden planted.

How to plant lettuce radishes beets

 

I like to plant my spring veggies in beds. I started using raised beds back in the day because my hard packed red clay yard wasn’t the best garden area. It was easier to enrich the soil on top of the ground than try and chip up the red clay. When I first started gardening I would go off into the woods with a 5 gallon bucket and bring back rich dark earthy smelling dirt to add to my beds.

Planting a spring garden with sow true seeds

 

We’re fans of mushroom compost and give our beds a fresh covering almost every season. For many years, I gathered fall leaves and added them to the beds just before winter. Come Spring of the year, The Deer Hunter would till in what was left of the decomposing leaves. It took a while, but we finally have decent gardening soil.

Over the years, I’ve learned you can use pretty much anything to make raised beds. I used to think you had to have fancy pavers or store bought lumber. But as you can see from the photo, we’ve used limbs to contain the garden beds in the front of the house. The limbs are easy to get since we live in a wooded area and are beyond frugal-since they’re free. The limbs/small logs will last a few years before they began to rot.

Years ago I hauled rocks from the creek to line all of my flower gardens with, sometimes I steal those rocks to make raised beds.

 

Sow True Seed generously sponsored the Blind Pig & the Acorn Garden again this year. Their sponsorship pleases me in so many ways, and at the top of the list is their great seeds.

I always plant Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce. It’s a dependable variety, it’s tasty, and it’s what Pap and Granny have always planted.

To plant my lettuce, I use half of one of my longer beds. I make sure the soil is well tilled and then lightly smooth the top of the bed. I broadcast the lettuce seed as evenly as possible over the entire bed and then I lightly sprinkle a few handfuls of dirt on top. Lettuce seeds are so tiny that you don’t really have to cover them very much. Once the first rain (or watering) hits the beds the seeds will sink down far enough to germinate.

Pap said his mother always burned brush on her lettuce bed before planting. He said this warmed up the soil and killed off any weeds that had gotten started. I remember Pap burning his lettuce bed before I was married, but I don’t think he does it now.

After a few weeks, I’ll plant another pack of lettuce so that it doesn’t all come in at once and we can enjoy fresh lettuce for a while longer.

I’m partial to Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach, and I plant it almost the same way I do lettuce. With the only difference being, I cover spinach seeds a little more deeply since they are a larger seed. Sow True Seed says you can over winter this variety of spinach if you plant a fall planting, but I haven’t tried it yet. Somehow I think of spinach as a Spring plant and not a fall one.

How to plant radish

 

I love radishes! Do you? The girls and The Deer Hunter don’t like them at all…secretly I’m glad they don’t because that means I get to eat them all.

I plant radishes in a bed too. I smooth the top of a tilled bed and then use the handle of my hoe to make shallow rows. I seed the row and then cover completely. After radishes began to come up, you need to thin them out a little. I know thinning the plants is necessary but man it is hard to pull them up! On the plus side, you can eat them as you would greens or make your chickens very happy by giving the thinned plants to them.

I’ve tried all sorts of fancy radish varieties but always have the best luck with Sparkler.

Sow true seed detroit red beet

 

We’ve tried lots of beet varieties too, but none compare to Sow True Seed’s Detroit Dark Red. I plant beets like I do radishes, except I make the bed much deeper to make room for those lovely globes of beets. Beets need to be thinned once they come

Beets also need to be thinned once they come up-which can take forever! The first time I planted beets I thought the seed was bad-it wasn’t it just takes them longer to sprout than most other veggies.

How to plant onions

 

Our onion buttons go in a raised bed that’s been tilled and smoothed over. I make rows; push the onions in; and cover them completely. We eat most all of our onions as ‘green onions’ rather than growing them all summer and storing for winter use.

Over the last 15 years of growing a garden I’ve found one ultimate truth: there is no one right way to grow a garden. Each person’s soil is different,

Each person’s soil is different, their local weather is different, and each person’s preferences are different. BUT I’ve also found growing your own food is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. I encourage you to grow a garden-even if your garden is a pot of lettuce sitting on the deck.

Tipper

 

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Tipper
    April 8, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    Pamela
    Thank you for the great comments! We do pickle our beets! You can find my recipe on the Blind Pig by doing a search for it : )
    Hope you have a great evening!
    Tipper
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Tipper
    April 8, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    George
    Thank you for the comment! I have never gathered creases but would love to have someone show me the process!
    Have a great evening : )
    Tipper
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Hannah
    April 8, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    I really like how you’ve used the branches to make your raised beds – I think I may have to borrow that idea. And I love radishes, too, but my family doesn’t care for them at all. Love reading your blog!

  • Reply
    Tipper
    April 8, 2015 at 6:35 am

    Ed-I like how you fixed up your garden! And yes I did plant your radish seed-they are already up and growing : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 8, 2015 at 12:51 am

    Today’s topic led me to ponder upon the Victory Gardens of the mid 1940s (not to be confused with the PBS television show of the same name). Not that I am old enough to remember the time but my mother did and told me about what transpired during that time. The saving of scrap metal and raising a garden were what stuck with me. Even if they didn’t need all they produced, they put forth the effort anyway, knowing that somebody somewhere would. We must not to let that willingness to work for a worthwhile cause pass us by. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to pass on what we know. Food, Clothing and Shelter are are the basic human needs. In a modern world I fear that the knowledge and skills to produce any of these on one’s own are mostly gone. In a catastrophic event, most of mankind would suffer and die, but if our progeny are equipped with what we already know, they are bound to fare better.b

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    April 7, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Wonderful that you’re carrying on the tradition of vegetable gardening. Over the last several decades, so many country dwellers have given up the outdoor life of gardening and gone indoors to feed themselves on prepared and denatured food, to the detriment of health and vitality, not to mention the family budget.
    Black Seeded Simpson is a great leaf lettuce. I planted it in the garden more than 50 years ago, along with those excellent radishes – which mature a mere 28 days after putting seed in the ground. Where I lived, it was a point of pride to have the first green peas. Folks would be out planting peas as soon as the soil could be worked, usually at the very end of February or the first few days of March. Peas withstand the hardest frost.
    But the first vegetable of the spring was the land cress – “creasy sallit” – that sprouted spontaneously in cornfields, where we gathered it in March. Creasy sallit was the green antidote to the long gray winter. Does anyone gather land cress in Clay County?
    A backyard kitchen garden would do wonders for America. Sad that there are so few of them these days.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 7, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    Tipper,
    Our raised beds need refurbishing…We have had so much rain, etc. we will have a late start this year. I don’t panic until after the 20th…our frost/freeze date here in E.TN. I have had cucumbers freeze on May 5th in years past…that is very sickening…
    I love radishes too! A good crunch in a Spring garden salad…Your garden looks wonderful!
    I love beets but we never had much luck up here on the hill…but my friend a 1/4 mile away grew the most beautiful beets…
    William Dotson jogged my memory about putting something over the beets to encourage sprouting…We usually have a dry, sunny day or so when they should be sprouting and I think that hurts ours…I am definitely putting a long board over my newly planted beet seeds to see if that helps…thanks W. Dotson
    I love these garden hints from the readers…don’t you?
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…Our ground may not dry until September….LOL

  • Reply
    Dolores
    April 7, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your information. It makes me want to get started. Since I’m not in NCOS all summer, I have a neighbor check out what I do grow. I love varieties of bell peppers. Thanks for the suggestions and encouragement. You save a lot of money doing a garden.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 7, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    I have planted all the same stuff you have so far except I don’t have any lettuce yet. And I’m trying some cabbage. So far everything is in beds. This year to make the beds, I pulled the dirt up into mounds with a rake pulling out all the rocks, roots and weeds as I went. Then I smoothed the mounds back down into beds about three feet wide with a trench between them about a foot wide and ten inches deep. I filled the trench with leaves and straw so hopefully the rains don’t wash the dirt back into them. I can stand in the little walkway and easily reach halfway across the beds to pull weeds and harvest vegetables. I plan to keep adding material between the beds as it decomposes and next year I can pull the dirt over what should be compost by that time.
    Back last winter I got to thinking (scary huh?) Most garden space is wasted when you plant in rows. You have about a foot or so of growing area with a two to three foot walkway on either side. What if you reversed that? And what if you raised the growing area and lowered the walkway. You don’t have to bend over so far.
    Not everything can go in a bed so I will still have some rows in my tiny patch but my plan is put all my little ones in beds whenever possible.
    I still carry rich dirt from wherever I find it. I use a 14 quart water bucket. A 5 gallon bucket full is too heavy for me.
    Did you plant the radish seeds I saved from last year?

  • Reply
    Ken
    April 7, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Tipper,
    Your raised beds look so nice! A
    few years ago I use to plant beets, radishes (the hotter the better), and leaf and head lettuce. But not anymore, I had to build me a planter to drop the seeds thru, so
    I didn’t have to bend over.ha
    A few years back I was planting
    tomatoes and left my hoe way over
    at the end of the row. My dogs
    like to eat me up with joy, seeing me crawling back on all
    fours. I love gardening time…Ken

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    April 7, 2015 at 10:14 am

    We are planting in containers this year. Our old backs almost gave out trying to keep the weeds out of the garden. I sure hope we have success with the containers! I saved some seed from several heirloom tomatoes we planted a few years ago and the seeds have sprouted. I have planted some herbs and I really would like some colorful sweet peppers and cucumbers. We also love radishes so I will plant them, oh yes and green onions (got to have them).
    Do you pickle your beets? I love pickled beets! If things do well I will take photos and post on my blog.
    Pam
    scrap-n-sewgranny.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    Gina S
    April 7, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Nothing beats the taste and satisfaction of homegrown food.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    April 7, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Thanks for the solid advice, and for the account that shows your industrious nature and your willingness to share what has worked for you with others! Happy gardening, and may the results be many delicious, healthful meals of freshly grown, gathered, prepared vegetables!

  • Reply
    Julia
    April 7, 2015 at 9:00 am

    I feel so behind. I have bought seeds, etc, but we still have no tiller. 🙁 We are working on it though, so maybe this weekend, we can get something going.

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    April 7, 2015 at 8:52 am

    I like radishes, but I’ve never tried to grow them. My 88 year old Granny still goes out in the woods with a bucket to find “stump dirt”. She finds a stump or an old log that’s decayed & hauls it out to put in her flower beds. She says that’s the best dirt. She finally give up the ghost on planting a vegetable garden a couple years ago. She couldn’t keep the wild animals out of it & Daddy convinced her that him & momma plant plenty enough to share with her. It still bothers her though not having one.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 7, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Tip, your beds are always so pretty to look at as they grow. I like how neat and orderly they are plus the shades of green as they begin growing. I’m with you on the radishes. I love radishes either in salads or just to wash and eat.
    You make me want to grow a garden, almost. Though I’m not much on the gardening end but I big on the canning end so now that I’m here close you can grow and I’ll can!

  • Reply
    William Dotson
    April 7, 2015 at 7:35 am

    Tipper if you lay a board on the row of beets after you plant them and leave it for a week the beets usually come up quicker, this keeps the soil a little moist and protects them from a hard rain which packs the soil the moist/softer soil lets them come up better, I do this or stretch a piece of tobacco bed canvas over them but the canvas is getting hard to find around here.

  • Reply
    Cher'ley
    April 7, 2015 at 7:20 am

    I love your blog. I don’t always take the time to comment, but I try to read it often. Cher’ley

  • Reply
    Quinn
    April 7, 2015 at 6:57 am

    I agree about the value of a garden, however small or challenging; mine are both. It is a lovely thing to think “I’m about ready for lunch” and head outside instead of to the freezer. Last year was a high labor/low production gardening year for me, but I’m more than ready to try again! Still quite a bit of snow on the ground here, but a lot has melted…there will be much work to do in the next few weeks!

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