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It’s already time to draw up plans for a vegetable garden

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 — A container on my kitchen windowsill is filled with tomato plant seedlings. One morning a few tiny green specks could be seen atop the soil and a few days later a multitude of plants had sprouted.

My husband, Terry, gets the credit. He is determined to have a bountiful garden this summer. Already we are beginning to create a layout for planting. One garden box will be devoted to tomatoes. We will create a greenhouse affect with PVC pipe arched across the box and covered with clear plastic, patterned after a covered wagon. It is a design we saw used at the community garden planted at the One Stop Center in Westwood.

Many lessons were learned last summer when we filled two planter boxes with tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, lettuce, spinach and lemon cucumbers. Also, along our fence we planted raspberries.

Although I thought Terry was starting plants a little early (we don’t have a greenhouse), there is wisdom in planting a garden this summer. Even though we have gotten quite a lot of rain recently, California is in a drought. The third snow survey of the season, Feb. 27, found water content in the snowpack at 22 percent of normal and only 19 percent of the average reading in early April when snow begins to melt into streams and reservoirs.

The California Department of Water Resources has set its allocation of water from the State Water Project at zero. It is reported farmers may not plant as many crops but leave fields fallow instead. Of course costs rise if supply does not meet demand.

We are not only planting crops but expanding the garden. Last year we purchased readymade planter boxes which we put together and filled with fertilized soil. This year we are making one or two on our own. In addition, we will try a variety of vertical gardening techniques because our yard is small.

In July 2013, I attended a vertical gardening class taught by Melissa McCoy, owner of Every Bloomin’ Thing. The class was sponsored by the Westwood Family Resource Center and funded by Lassen County Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

McCoy brought lots of pictures and examples of innovative garden ideas. I learned old gutters attached to a fence can be filled with soil and planted; also an old dresser with the drawers pulled out. These items are retrofitted by drilling ¾ inch holes in the bottom and adding a layer of moss for good drainage.

Although it was too late in the season to put into practice McCoy’s suggestion of growing plants up trellises as a space saver, I will use this strategy this upcoming summer. My mother asked if I wanted an old metal bed I slept in as a child which she has stashed in a barn. I immediately thought it would make an excellent and decorative trellis in the garden. Tomatoes, cucumbers and squash grow well on trellises.

Terry not only began planting seeds, he is also exploring ways to enjoy the vegetables long after summer has ended. The last time we stopped at a favorite used book store in Reno he purchased a couple books about canning and freezing fruits and vegetables. He is expecting a great harvest.


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