The gardening season here in the ‘North’ is starting to ramp up which means that, as someone who works in the garden retail industry, my work hours are starting to increase and my work week lengthen. That’s great for the bank account but, unless I’m careful, will wreak havoc with my garden and all my plans for this season. So, I’ve decided to look at all the little ways that I can streamline my gardening…without losing any of the joy, of course.

Sweet Pea 'Matucana'; Grown 2 years ago without inoculant.

Sweet Pea 'Matucana'; Grown 2 years ago without inoculant.

Tip #1 is the ‘aha’ moment from yesterday when, while looking through my seed packets to determine what next needed to be sown inside, I came across some sweet pea and Brazilian verbena seeds. Either flower can be started inside or sown directly into the soil outside but both flower earlier and, in the case of the perennial verbena, are hardier when sown inside. The trouble is that sowing inside is more time-consuming (potting up and hardening-off are two steps not necessary when sowing outside) and I save my precious time for plants like peppers and tomatoes that, unless started inside, will not produce anything due to our short growing season. So, I decided the risk was worth it and I’ll sow them directly outside when the weather warms up a bit (can you believe we still have a bit of snow?).

To cover my bets a bit, I’ll inoculate my sweet pea seeds. Inoculant contains Rhizobia bacteria which helps the members of the legume family (such as peas and beans) fix nitrogen from the air which makes them more productive. This bacteria is less active in cooler soils and, since sweet peas are always sown in the early spring when the soil is just this side of unfrozen, a little more of the Rhizobia will only be helpful.

The Brazilian verbena, however, is on its own.

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I had to take a hiatus from blogging – started a new job with a steep learning curve – but you didn’t miss much in my garden last season. Spring was cold and rainy so the mosquitoes were horrendous and the aphids prolific. I put in the garden about 6 weeks too late so the tomatoes didn’t ripen well before the first frost. The slugs chewed up every broad-leafed vegetable I planted because I just didn’t have time to constantly troll for them. And it wasn’t just the insects and diseases my plants had to contend with – they also had to compete with each other for space and nutrients. And when it’s a battle between the zucchini and the carrots, guess who’s going to win?! I have to say, though, it’s impressive what my poor little neglected garden was able to produce despite my absence and the horrible weather.

2011 Season...Yes, I know it looks lush but where's all the fruit?

2011 Season...Yes, I know it looks lush but where's all the fruit?

So, despite my threats to turn to plastic plant gardening, last year’s little successes have encouraged me to get back in the garden again (and, hopefully, back to blogging) because, as we all know, gardeners are an optimistic lot – and there are so many things I still haven’t tried growing yet like strawberries from seed…and Brazilian verbena…and tuberose…and black radishes…and purple carrots…and there are some interesting new/old lettuce varieties…

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I’ve been enjoying an new ezine called Soiled and Seeded…isn’t that a great title? Their subtitle is ‘Cultivating a Gardening Culture’ which is why their topics in their latest issue are so broad-ranging – from growing fava beans to growing moss, from storefront gardeners to greening Tokyo, from passionate monoculturists to passionate biodivercitists (I’m not sure that’s a word but it should be) - gardeners are sure to find something to interest them.

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