Planning for the growing season

By Bill Taylor - Contributing columnist

It seems to me that it’s about that time again — you know, planning for the upcoming growing season. Oh, sure, we’ve got lotsa cold, rainy, and possibly snowy weather ahead, but figuring out what, where, and when to plant kinda helps relieve the gloomy feeling that comes with days on end of dismal gray overcast skies.

For years, we got what we called “seed” catalogues that were colorful brochures from various companies describing all kinds of vegetable and flower offerings. We could leaf through those publications during dreary end-of-winter days and visualize what our selections might look like. Unfortunately, this practice has fallen by the wayside as print has given way to digital advertising and purchasing. It’s really not the same, but I suppose it’s “progress.”

About a year ago when I was going through this procedure I had pretty well decided “to give up, throw in the towel, cry ‘uncle’ — and cease my efforts to grow green and yellow beans.” The reason was that ravenous rabbits had defeated my every effort to protect my beans from those midnight munchers. I figured the only viable solution — a fence around the bean patch — would be too difficult, too challenging. Fortunately, I changed my mind and came up with a way to install such a fence which proved to be successful — we still have some packages of frozen beans in the freezer. Furthermore, I was able to make the fence removable so I can use it again this year. In fact, I may see if I can get an early crop of edible pod peas using the same technique. Will have to check on planting windows.

I will have more cleaning up flower beds and such this spring than in the past. The reason is that last fall I read a gardening column that suggested leaving the dead plants to overwinter to give shelter for birds and critters so I decided to give it try.

Well, I don’t know how well it worked, but one result is I’ll have lots more tidying up. But this is one chore where results are immediately evident and thus satisfying. One thing this year I have to consider is rotating my vegetable crops, that is, switching around the location of my beans, in-ground tomatoes, and sweet banana peppers. According to those folks who know about such things, rotation is better than continually growing the veggies in the same spot. More planning.

I will once again grow “patio” tomatoes. They did much better last year than my in-ground ones. I’ll use fresh soil in the containers and will once again plant old standbys on my patio — reserving blight-resistant ones for my in-ground group but still use organic anti-blight spray on all. Better safe than sorry. More planning.

OK moving on to flowers. For a number of years I have successfully moved my geraniums back and forth between outside containers and indoor ones. Well, half didn’t tolerate the transplanting this winter and so I lost them. The other half doesn’t look good and I don’t know if they will survive until warm weather arrives and I seriously doubt if they will survive transplanting to an outdoor container. Sure is frustrating when I don’t know what is causing their demise. Perhaps a five or so years lifetime is the limit. Maybe it’s time for some new ones.

I will likely add some perennials to our main flower bed and continue planting marigolds as a border. They add so much color and contrast to the perennials. I truly enjoy moss roses, particularly the multicolor ones, but last year they didn’t do as well as I had hoped. Might try a couple of pots and hope for the best.

Gonna continue with petunias for our patio flowers — and may once again use them in our self-planted hanging baskets. Petunias have such a wide variety of types and colors that they are very versatile and may be used in many different venues but do require tending such as “dead-heading.” Oh, well, that’s part of the our investment in flowers.

You know, I recently heard about how one of the president-wannabe’s supposedly described the growing process as: “Dig a hole, put the seed in the hole, cover the hole up, and apply water. That’s all there is to it.” It’s pretty obvious that any individuals who thinks “that’s all there is to it” has never grown anything — except possibly their bank accounts. Yep, planning is not only important, it’s critical, and besides, at this time of year, it sure helps drive away the blues as I look out on the snow-covered landscape and continually gray skies.

At least that’s how it seems to me.

By Bill Taylor

Contributing columnist

Bill Taylor, a regular contributing columnist, may be contacted at This column shared through the AIM Media Midwest group of newspapers.

Bill Taylor, a regular contributing columnist, may be contacted at This column shared through the AIM Media Midwest group of newspapers.