1. Get the garden planted no later than Mother's Day.
2. Don't plant until the snow is gone off the foothills.
The first rule is based on our short-ish growing season; mid May to mid September. Vegetables that take a long while to mature - corn, pumpkin, carrots, butternut squash - need to be started as soon as is possible or they won't have time to ripen in the fall. The second rule is simply based on temperature. If the foothills still have snow, then the soil in the garden is probably not warm enough for seeds to germinate. Of course, having a soil thermometer is a more precise way to go.
Most years, these rules can easily be followed because by Mother's Day the snow in the foothills has all melted away. Our tradition has been to have my parents and Jeremy's parents over for Mother's Day brunch and then my mom and I toil in the garden. But this year on Mothe
r's Day there was still snow in them-there-hills. On top of that, it was a cold and rainy day. We opted for brunch at my parent's condo instead.
All last week I watched the weather report hoping for a couple warm days to melt the snow and for one weekend day without rain. We got it! Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week were partly sunny with temperatures in the mid to upper 60's. Saturday was suppose to be cloudy but the rain was to hold off until the late afternoon. So I called my mom and said "Let's do this!"
Planting the garden takes 2 people roughly 4-5 hours of solid work. Mom and I have done it many times and have a system. The night before or morning of I draw a diagram of the garden deciding where to put things so that no variety is in the same spot as the year before (it's best for soil). When we get down to the garden and have all our equipment, seeds and starts out, we use the diagram to make walking trails around the different planting areas. Then we each choose a location and start planting. Mom usually starts with the tomatoes and I start with the pole beans. We just work our way through until it's all in.
Yesterday we got a late start because my parents had bridge lessons in the morning. Around 1pm we were ready to go and the clouds were moving in. As we planted the air kept getting colder and the clouds darker. We moved extra quick. At 4pm I felt a few raindrops. We hadn't gotten it all in. More than 3/4's was finished but the beets, carrots, onion sets and bush beans were still in their packets. But we could tell by the color of the clouds and the wind that the rain was going to really come down. So we packed up all the equipment and called it a day. If we get a break in the rain next week, I'll try to get some stuff in. Or maybe next weekend.
It should be noted that there is still snow in the foothills. Oh well, rules are meant to be broken.