By: Jim Carpenter

Anyone who has been following my blogs at all knows that I tend to push the envelope a bit when it comes to getting things planted early in the garden.

It is a bit risky but it’s a risk I am willing to take, and in general I have had pretty good success with it. However, there are times when things don’t work out as I had planned. This year was one of those times.

With the beautiful early March weather we had this year, I could not pass up the opportunity to plant a lot of cool season seeds in one of my raised beds. The results were far from what I was hoping for. Later in March, and through a great deal of April and even into May, cold and wet weather described how our spring went. This resulted in many of those seeds never even sprouting.

However, I do have some chard, radish and collards doing well out there, and also several rows of carrots. The fava beans were kind of an experiment for me, but they look good. What didn’t come up was thyme, oregano, lavender and some Korean greens we picked up. I would have bet on at least a few of those seeds coming up. Oh well.

I planted seven of my tomato plants on April 15: three Brandywine, three Big Boy and one Roma variety. Two of these plants were dug up by animals and I lost them, but the other five are starting to look pretty good so I can’t complain. I lay my suspicions on a raccoon doing the digging but there are also skunks and possums that pass through. I suppose the resident groundhogs may also be on the short list of possible suspects.

About that April 15 planting date. That is considered far too early to be putting out tomato plants in Northern Indiana. Anyone can tell you that. However, one of the reasons I love to garden is the constant variety of things I might try differently from year-to-year. I guess trying to outguess the last frost date was something I decided to try this year. The other tomato plants made it through, although they did look a little worse for wear for a while. I didn’t take the time to set them in the sun for a few afternoons to get them acclimated before I planted them. So they did get some sunburned leaves for a while. I guess I don’t always practice what I preach.

I just planted the last of what I started on the back porch. I am still struggling a bit in my slowly improving vision so my wife was the one to find the six eggplants in a starter pack among her flower and herb starts. I found a space for them in a raised bed where my peas never came up.

The other task in the garden I needed to do was to get a few green beans planted. Green beans can be planted fairly late in the season but those first fresh beans on the table can’t come too early! I actually planted some of these beans where my other early planted seed didn’t come up. I may plant a succession crop of beans about two weeks from now..

The potatoes are looking good. I think with these warmer temperatures the tomatoes and peppers and everything else will perk up. After having such a wet spring it might soon be necessary to start getting the watering hose out.

Even with lingering vision problems I have been enjoying getting out in the garden a little more these days. The weather certainly helps. I have just been doing what I can and it is slowly getting easier. I actually used a magnifying glass to weed some carrots a little while back. That was kind of different.

Even with some wasted efforts in planting seeds so early, there are still some positives for me. The actual planting of the garden is one of the more enjoyable aspects of gardening to me. Of course harvesting is the most rewarding part! I also had the satisfaction of just knowing that I had something started out in the garden. After a long winter it felt good to know another season had begun, even if it was in fits and starts with the weather. Of course, even some of the less fruitful efforts in the garden give a person something to talk about, or in this case, write about.

Have some fun with your garden. Try something a little different. You may win or you may lose, but either way I believe you will gain some reward for your efforts.

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