A Time to Reap. A Time to Sow. Timing is Key!

A Time to Reap. A Time to Sow. Timing is Key!

“If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”

“A plan is a list of actions arranged in whatever sequence is thought likely to achieve an objective.”

“Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining outside when Noah built the Ark.”

We’ve heard it all before. We must make a plan. Planning is good.

I must say though, in gardening, plans can change. This is sticky for me. I’m not obsessive as to be diagnosed as such, but I have tendencies. You know, I’m the kind of person that makes a list of the lists she needs to make. The kind of person that when she realizes she has left it off of the list, writes it in to cross it off. Yep. I’m that girl.

At this point you either, know me, hate me, or are me. I completely understand all three of these. I know…that meticulous planning helps me feel in control when there is no way to completely be in control. I hate…that I make myself and my immediate family crazy obsessing about seemingly inconsequential details. I am…aware that is just how I am and I, and my immediately family, are just going to have to deal with it.

As this is not a post about psychological awareness per se , let’s get to the garden.

There are certain gardening schedules that we really must be very strict about in order to get a good result. On the other hand, there are some things that we can loosen up about without adversely effecting our outcome or ruining our lives. As with most things in life, it seems we must do our best to prepare for an outcome, then adapt and overcome if it all goes pear shaped. It’s the ballet of the garden.

So, what are the things of which we must be strict (or at least semi strict) adherents?

A Time to Sow

It’s difficult to get around this one. Timing is the key.

We can water, weed, powder and primp all we like, but if we’ve planted the tomato outside in January with two feet of snow on the ground, we’re not going to get any tomatoes.

It’s all well and good to wear the “Bloom where you are planted” sweatshirts but you and I both know some people are never going to be as happy in Burlington, MA as they would be in Orlando, Fl.

Plants are the same way. While you may be able to pull a rabbit out of your hat and get something to grow when it would really rather not., you will be doing tightrope act with some pretty unforgiving results. This is why it is called forcing paper whites, not allowing paper whites. It can be done, but it’s gonna take a plan.

The people that sell you seed, want you to succeed. This is a matter of fact more to do with economics than anything else. Your success with the seeds you buy from them will predict your buying more seeds from them in the future and you telling your friends and relations to do likewise. So stick pretty closely to the instructions on the packets, and chances are, you’re going to have a good outcome.

Notice I said closely. There is some personal discretion that can be played with when it comes to sowing. For example, I’m putting out some peas a good four weeks before the colorful hardiness map is saying I should. That beautiful map doesn’t have any idea that we’ve had unseasonably warm weather and my soil thermometer has been pegged at 67° for three weeks.

While the long arm of the North may snap down and rat tail my tender pea shoots on the backside the first week of March, I’m gambling that it won’t. So, I had a plan, I changed the plan. I’ll deal with the results one way or another. Seriously, the worst that can happen is I’ll plant more peas in four weeks. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

When sowing, make a plan but stretch your wings as well.

Drip, Drip, Drip

There is a time that I do not fudge on. Watering and feeding.

With these, I am meticulous. I’m careful to plant my “Doesn’t like wet feet ” far from my “Enjoys a marshy loam”

Let’s go back to the “Bloom where you are planted” sweatshirt. I can see how this seems a simpering platitude to say an allergy sufferer in Tyler, TX, Americas Rose Capital. The only way this person is going to be happy is with a strict regimen of non drowsy antihistamine by day and diphenhydramine at night. But the best place for this guy would be, say, Phoenix?  I make designations for the water requirements for my plants. Phoenix is the south sloping corner of the property. Louisiana is on the west bottom land. Everyone else lives in Texas.

I’m joking, but you really do need to time your water stringently. I’ve mentioned before I had to learn that my cucumbers want to be watered early in the morning, at the base of the plant, so they can be completely dry in the cool East Texas evenings. This fends the mildew off.

Strict watering and feeding habits will help with a myriad of headaches that can vex you without them:

  • Cracked fruit
  • Branched roots (over feeding carrots for example)
  • All leaf, little fruit
  • Fungus and Mildew
  • Poor Growth
  • Poor Yields

Is that enough? Water and feed carefully. You’ll be glad you did.

Acknowledge, and Move On

This is my way of saying, “Learn from your mistakes, but don’t beat yourself up about them” Use what you learned from last year and don’t make the same mistakes this year, but don’t dwell on them either.

You lost your entire crop of lemon cucumbers to cucumber beetle? You’re not going to not plant them again this year? I don’t think so! You’re going to be prepared to fight the beetle for your right to lemon cucumbers. They’re worth fighting for.

On the other hand, you may have to acknowledge that it really is not meant for you to grow certain things. I have tried for five years to grow lettuce. I have never had a successful lettuce growing experience in Texas. I grew beautiful lettuce in Arkansas. Why can’t I grow lettuce in Texas? I dunno, but this year, I don’t care either. I can buy beautiful, local lettuce at my Farmer’s Market.

I’ve let it go for this year and perhaps next. Perhaps I’ll never try lettuce again. Well, probably not that last one, but who knows? I’m going to acknowledge, and move on. I grow beautiful tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, peppers..etc. You get the point. There are things I will do well, there are things that will be not so much. I’m grateful for the good and I’ll learn from the not so much.

A Time to Reap

Try to let your veggies ripen on the vine as much as possible. I know that some of you pick tomatoes early because if you don’t the birds get them. I know that sometimes you need to leave town and you won’t be back before the fruit would go bad. There are times when early harvest is inevitable. But try not to make a habit of it. Timing is also important for successive planting. In this way we can be harvesting more for longer periods.

A Time to Say Goodbye

Oh that’s now = ) I hope you have a carefully planned, well timed, paisley week. If the plans should change, acknowledge and move on. Still have a paisley week though.~KeriAnne


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