Mary's Veggie Garden

May 7, 2012

The Yard-stick in the Garden

Filed under: Chives,Gardening,Parsnips,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 9:52 am
Tags: , ,

Yes, a yard-stick is in my tool bucket and I even use it for measuring.

Parsnip seed planted in ridiculously straight lines.

The space between plants is very important, and I measure when transplanting. On the other hand, I don’t care about the space between rows – everything is planted in beds with no space to walk between rows. For many veggies the space between plants on the seed packet can be used in all directions.

Occasionally I use the yardstick when planting seeds. Without a guide, it is too easy to plant the peas 3- 4″ apart instead of 2″.

I also use my yard-stick to make straight lines for the tiny seeds of carrots, parsnips, and radishes. After loosening the soil and raking smooth, I press  and wiggle the long edge of the yard-stick into the soil. Voilà, a min-trench. Place the seed and cover lightly by brushing in soil from either side. This may sound OCD, but it’s easier than many other ways of planting.

Using a yard-stick to make a shallow trench.

I’ve read the romantic gardening books that advise broadcasting seed in a random scatter. I’ve even tried that with carrots twice (15 years apart) and regretted it both times.  With broadcast seed, the carrots were very difficult to thin and fertilize and impossible to mulch. With straight rows, thinning is only necessary in one direction: along the row.  Fertilizer and mulch can be applied between the rows.

Garden Events & Harvest Monday

I hope the cold weather this spring is finished. We had freezes the last three days of April with a low of 28 on April 30. My kohlrabi, in the very exposed community plots at Vassar Farm, was badly frost burned. But it looks like 90% will survive; they were well rooted and there are new leaves appearing in the center.

House wren on the bird-house in the rhubarb patch.

Our house wren has returned! I first noticed his burbling tweedle May 3. My home garden is too shady for blue birds, and wrens provide valuable help by eating insects. House sparrows have already staked out the other bird-house in the garden. I’m hoping the sparrows don’t chase away the wrens.

Harvest (two weeks):

* Rhubarb – 2 pounds.  In early April the rhubarb stopped growing, with stalks only 8″ long. Growth has finally resumed with the rain of the last 2 weeks, though it is still shorter than normal.
* Chives – 9 ounces for the freezer. I almost delayed too long, a few were just starting to send up buds.
* Greens – baby Red Giant Mustard and leaves from last year’s kale. Also as many violet leaves as I can stand for salads.
* 1 leek – planted in 2010 and overwintered twice!
* 3 Red Baron scallions – overwintered.

Chives harvest 4/29.

Please visit Daphne’s Dandelions for more Harvest Mondays.



  1. Hi Mary, question for you – what did you mean by, for the chive harvest – ” I almost delayed too long, a few were just starting to send up buds” ? Assuming you mean flower buds, what does that do to the chives ?


    Comment by philomena — May 7, 2012 @ 12:03 pm | Reply

    • Most greens start to get tough when they bloom. So my goal is to get a supply of chives frozen for next winter while they are still tender. I will continue to harvest for fresh use all summer through the bloom period and later.

      Usually the chive flowers are open while I’m harvesting lettuce so I harvest a couple flowers to add a mild onion flavor to the salad plus the lavendar color. Just have to watch for ants, though, there are always several in the flowers.


      Comment by marysveggiegarden — May 7, 2012 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

  2. I know your yardstick well, Mary. Sorry to hear about your kohlrabi, will this set them back? My fig tree got a bit of damage but will be OK.

    Comment by Norma Chang — May 7, 2012 @ 6:18 pm | Reply

    • Hi Norma,
      I suspect the freeze damage will set them back 7-10 days. When I harvest, I’ll compare my first harvest date with last year, when it gradually warmed without any late frost or freeze. I’ll let you know.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — May 7, 2012 @ 7:01 pm | Reply

  3. Having a yardstick makes so much sense. I’m glad you mentioned it!

    Comment by pooks — May 8, 2012 @ 12:08 am | Reply

  4. I take the tape measure out with me when planting things that are more than 6 inches apart because I have a harder time judging the longer distances. In fact had it out today while planting some more corn. I also plant in beds and especially over winter I broadcast small seed like carrots and lettuce. In the summer sometimes I will plant in rows be cause I will make a deep valley and plant in the bottom of it where the soil will stay moister, I get better germination that way.

    Comment by maryhysong — May 8, 2012 @ 11:01 am | Reply

    • The community gardens get plowed every spring so I take a 50′ tape to mark the beds and paths. But in general I prefer the yardstick, it tends not to blow around and snag on everthing. Plus no unrolling/rerolling is needed.

      I like the idea of a trench for moisture. Last year I shaded a late June planting of carrots and beets with a piece of sheet tied over some unused tomato cages. It worked, but germination was probably half that of a May planting.


      Comment by marysveggiegarden — May 8, 2012 @ 12:22 pm | Reply

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