March | Garden Goals

March | Garden Goals

April 04, 2020

Spring has finally arrived! This is when things start to take an exciting turn. So much can be accomplished in the garden.

Photography By Kelly Savoca & Ryan Kanaly (Banner Only)

At our house, we got to see Daffodils, Muscari, Fiddlehead ferns, and our peach trees in bloom just to name a few. Some folks in the south have likely started their cold-hardy vegetables like kale or cabbage directly outside. On the other hand, I like to start seeds indoors to control the environment a bit more. 

Also, we are building 3 amazing raised beds. This has been a long process due to various life events but we are thrilled that this is the year that we get to make this happen! Alright, let’s get down to business and see what we tackled around the garden in March.

March 

Pruning Peach Trees
Ok, so this year we are trying to be more diligent about getting fruit off of our peach trees. We’ve always had success creating fruit but keeping pest and disease away is another story. Here are some of the tips we used to prune:
 
1 | The best time to prune is before the trees begin to fruit so catching your tree when you see buds and flowers is a great time to prune.
 
2 | The goal of pruning is to provide a nice flow of oxygen and light, remove dead or diseased branches, and eliminate suckers. Suckers, for example, use energy that could be used towards other areas of the tree that are likely to fruit well.
 
3 | We focused on the center of our tree where some of the branches were shooting straight up. Ideally, you want branches that are closer to 45 degrees. If there are too many branches at the center then once the leaves fill in you may not have enough airflow or light.
 
4 | Additionally, we focused on branches that looked weak and kept those that looked like they could support a nice amount of fruit.
 
5 | We used a long-handled pruner to clip as close as possible to the base of the branch. Keep it as flush as possible.
 

6 | Save any branches with flowers and place them in your home for décor. That’s it!

Peach Tree Flowers     Pruning a Peach Tree 
From here we’ll look to experiment with buying netting or other preventative measures to avoid pest or disease.
 
Creating a Sun Tracker

This was a fun project and I’d encourage you to give this a shot too especially while we are all at home. Building a sun tracker will help you better identify how many hours of sun each area of your space is receiving. It’s a great tool to use when planting and transplanting throughout your yard. You’ll be able to see what areas are full shade, part shade, or full sun. These are the steps I took:


Garden Sun Tracker1 | I made a rough sketch of my yard and every hour watched how the sun moved or where shadows formed.⁠ ⁠
 
2 | Measured my yard by walking it. Most people can walk their yard one foot in front of the other. I took slightly larger steps since my foot is about 8". This will help you make your diagram proportional.⁠ ⁠
 
3 | I used the dot grid page in our Garden Planner to make this to scale. 1/2" = 3'. From there I drew this out so that it looked cleaner and more accurate.⁠ ⁠
 
4 | This will help you determine how many hours of sun certain areas of your yard will receive.⁠ ⁠
 
5 | I'll track the sun again come April as our trees and brush fill in around the yard. You could build this out for Spring, Summer, & Fall since they may slightly differ.⁠ ⁠
 
6 | Ok get to work, you can do this too! Don't miss our video on how we made this HERE.
  

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building Raised Cedar Beds 

 

 

 

 


    

 

 

It’s taken us almost 3 years to get proper raised beds in place. For us, between buying a house, juggling new jobs, and a wedding we had to put it on hold. Despite this being a longer process than anticipated it has always remained one of our goals. This feels like the right time.
 
I’ll be sharing more of this process in my SPRING highlights on Instagram so make sure to stay up to date there. In the meantime, I’ll share where we are:
 
Why? We decided to make raised beds because our soil is very rocky & clay-based. If you do decide to plant in ground you can get a soil test done and check to see if you need to make some amendments.
 
What? Untreated B Grade Cedar from Grant Cedar Mill.
We used 2” wide boards = 8’ x 12” x 2”
 
We used a "B" grade to save money. "A" grade has a nicer finish but we hand-selected the "B" grade and found quite a few boards that looked as good as the "A" Grade. Also, some boards had one side (that could go towards the inside of the bed) and another that would be great for the exterior. It’s also worth mentioning that although you may have wood on hand that can be recycled for this purpose you may not know the finish that was used. The reason this is important is that it can leach into the soil. Always look for untreated.
 
How? My husband chose to cut the wood using a circular saw so that we could easily customize our boxes. Don’t fret! If you prefer to avoid as many tools as possible you can also buy a kit. You can check those out HERE.
 
He then sanded each board to make applying a sealer easier.
 
We oiled ours with a plant-based oil to help seal the wood. We used AFM Safecoat Clear Penetrating Oil as we had this on hand. I’ve heard there are other options using whey that stand up against UV rays and mildew but those may only be best for the exterior. You can check that out here but I’d be sure to double-check on best practice.
 
You could also choose not to seal the wood at all which is why cedar is a great choice! Cedar is naturally resistant to rot (more so the heartwood although it is harder to come by) but it will grey over time without any sealer.
 
We’ll continue to share more on this process as it develops, stay tuned!
 
Starting Seedlings Indoors
We started our seeds on March 21st to coincide with our raised beds being ready. Also, keeping in mind the last frost date of April 12th for our region. I used Hudson Valley Seeds since we’ve had great success with them.
 
Spring Seeds Started:
Little Gem Lettuce
Dino Kale
Rainbow Chard
Baby Bok Choy
Emerite Pole Bean
Edible Flower Mix
Herbs
 
New Flower Experiments:
Salvia
Coneflower
French Marigolds
(Marigolds are great companion plants for tomatoes, fig, etc.)
 

This is what they looked like in just one week!

Starting Seeds Indoors     Lettuce Seedlings
I’ll be sharing an IGTV video tomorrow showing the process so be sure to check that out!
 
Compost Layer Added to Peony & Blueberry Bushes
Towards the end of the month, I added a layer of compost at the base of each plant. This will give them a boost of nutrients! You can add mulch afterward too.
 

Looking to April 

Finishing Raised Beds
Early in the month we’ll be putting these together and filling them with soil. If you want to catch that make sure to follow us on Instagram.
 
Transplanting Spring Seedlings
When seeds first sprout they show their seed leaves. Once you see the true leaves then you’ll know they are ready to transplant. How will you know the difference? The true leaves look like the actual plant whereas seed leaves generally look round and generic.
 
I’ll be hardening our seedlings by giving them a few hours of sunlight to get used to the outdoors before fully planting outside. This will help them get used to their new environment.
 
Starting Sweet Potatoes
As we move our fig tree to a new container we’ll be trying our hand at sweet potatoes. We’ve had success in the past with white potatoes but we tend to eat sweet potatoes more. I found a variety called “Bunch” Porto Ricos that looks to do well in limited space and is vine less. This will be great since we want to do this in a large container. Otherwise, these do tend to spread so be warned.
 
How’s your garden coming along? Tag us at #cottonandmoss on Instagram to share!