On March 8---a week earlier than normal, I planted my first garden. It consisted of parsley, arugula (also called roquette), mesclun, spinach, and "Grand RapidsTip-burn Lettuce". I also planted several rows of pansies and alyssum (white and purple kinds) for color and scent.
The "traditional" first planting is peas on March 17, St Patrick's Day. As you may recall, March was much warmer than normal and the only night below freezing was March 8th, the same day I safely tucked seeds into the earth.
By the end of the month, I had my first failure: parsley seeds failed to germinate. However, all other seeds grew and I "thinned" the arugula and spinach for "sprouts" to put on my salads numerous times. These are still growing.
As the Pink Full Moon of April approached, I grew bold. I planted my second garden of "warm weather crops" almost a full month ahead of schedule. I planted Purple Russian tomato (see the video here); Better Boy tomatoes; volunteer tomatoes from my daughter's garden in L.A. (Lower Arnold, MO); Italian Fava Beans; cilantro; coleus; and Four o' Clocks. At Garden Heights Nursery and Wiethop Nursery, the staff and signs warned that it was too early to plant these things, but they had them for sale!
Sure enough, Mother Nature stayed true to her course. The last "killing frost" is normally April 10-15 here in The Lou. The weather forecasters blasted us with "freeze warnings" on April 10-11. Since my community garden plots are at the lowest sea-level point in Maplewood, with no buffers (natural nor man-made) from the howling Northern winds on those nights, my plants were hard hit. I lost all tomatoes, the annual flowers (coleus, and Four o' Clocks), and Fava Beans.
All "cool weather" crops survived. The biggest surprise was the cilantro (coriander) which seemed to enjoy the "cool down". On 04/13/2012, I planted more cilantro seeds before the rains started. In the next week I will do more plant start and seed shopping. I will wait until April 21st to plant them outside. This is the beginning of the New Moon and temperatures at night will be warm enough so that there will be no more frosty surprises.