April is when many gardens really get growing! April 6 is our last anticipated frost date and April 26 is considered safe. If you are following along with me your seedlings should be growing along nice and stocky and ready to plant out! Your fruit trees and blueberry bushes are in the ground and growing and it is time to put our garden plan into effect. I know it sounds a bit weird to suggest you map out your garden but hey this is Portland, we are weird! That is part of our charm, I know I personally am not often called normal. I start with a piece of graph paper and actually make a little map. Noting North south etc. You don't want to plant corn on the south side of your garden or you will block out the sunlight! So I always plan my corn for the far north side I add green beans the pole variety not bush around my corn the beans climb up the corn saving space and as a legume they actually improve the soil for the heavy feeding corn. I add a squash to ramble around the corn as well. One of my favorites is Pink Banana the pack I started with said not for the space conscious. It should have stated that once planted in Oregon vines may reach Kentucky. I like to plant squashes so I can be more self sufficient. They are very easy to save seed from, can be stored in an unheated garage or shed for months as long as they don't freeze, are high in nutritional value and are so easy to grow. Acorn squash is another one that fills the bill, I have a great recipe I got from famous chef Capriol and adapted for my style I make it vegan and use vinegar and apple juice instead of sherry, who has sherry?
I like to grow root crops that are easy to store as well. I plant onions and carrots together. Carrot fly's don't like onions and carrots roots themselves have an exudate that is great for peas. I prefer snow peas I am a fan of stir fries the whole shelling deal with me never happens. Potatoes do well by the bean/corn area and can take some shading. I use 6' sections of cattle fencing to surround my tomatoes to hold them up off the ground and I can cover it with clear plastic to protect from frost. For me that is the easiest way to stake anything! I use smaller circles to have my cucumbers or acorn squash or melons climb as well. I use a straight section of fencing for my peas. I generally plant snow peas on Feb 14 valentines day and potatoes on Mar17 St Patty's day. I soak my pea and corn seeds in warm water while I prep the area for planting it helps speed germination. If they germinates rapidly they are less likely to rot in the cool spring soil. My biggest garden problems are animals deer, turkeys and rabbits are my issues. My soil was originally red clay stains like crazy (everyone tried Bio-quest laundry soap?) We would haul in garbage bags of leaves and they were tilled in in the spring and horse manure from cleaning out my barn. So I have very high fertility rates now and the dirt has turned into a black loam with thousands of worms. I cover my garden area with black plastic to keep the rains from washing the nutrients away and save me from much weeding. It also helps to warm up the soil and improve growth.
I do the basic map for my garden and I am not much for plant rotation, many things end up where they were the year before. Part of the reason for my maps is tags that tell what variety of tomato or what ever is always seem to disappear either gremlins run off with them or the writing fades out and I can't read it. So the map saves the day. I have a garden note book an old fashioned 3 ring binder I bring into the garden and keep notes on as well as the map. I have a basic garden map I make copies of and fill out as I go along. My garden is not too tidy, I start with the map and then end up sticking a fever few here or a few beets there or? I only have 800 words here so my garden calender and amount to plant guide will have to be added to my blog, http://dlopezforcongress.blogspot.com/ with my medicinal herb cheat sheet. Next month will be on medicinal herbs growing and usage. If you have any questions I can be contacted at Delia@dlopezforcongress.com