Tending to that thirsty garden plot
May 23, 2002
It is about the time of year that people get to thinking about a garden plot in the back yard. Surprisingly, the clay soils found in this part of Montana are quite conducive to growing many vegetables in spite of the age-old idea that the darker the soil, the better things will grow in it.
So first, get a spade and dig up or rototill your plot of ground. If the ground has a lot of clay in it, maybe add some peat moss to it. In fact, peat is a good addition to most gardens a lot of the time.
Old-time area gardeners have probably already planted their potatoes and peas. A good rule of thumb is to plant them on Good Friday. However, this has been such a cold spring that planting now or even a little later will be just fine.
Potatoes, beans, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and all sorts of corn do well here. Asparagus does well and comes back every year. Same with rhubarb and horseradish. Lettuce, little green onions and radishes grow like weeds in Havre. Many gardeners plant them again and again to insure a good supply of them all summer long.
Don't overlook herbs. Some, like sage, do come back year after year except that sage sometimes does winter kill. Probably it wouldn't if properly covered for the winter. Oregano does well in this area, too. So do chives and they come back year after year, too. Dill grows really well here and achieves a good height outdoors.
When planting your vegetable garden, don't overlook flowers. Not only do marigolds really add color and beauty to the garden, they are good for other plants, because they are a natural foil for many kinds of bugs that could infest the rest of the garden.
Since it looks like watering restrictions could be in force for most of the season, take a tip from pioneer gardeners. Many times not a lot of water is necessary to grow flowers and vegetables. Cultivation around plants and rows is essential, and just typical rains can keep a garden growing many years without adding any additional water at all. Of course, the more water, the more quickly area gardens do grow in most cases.