The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is over and the new year celebrations have morphed into new year resolutions. To many, the lingering cold days and stubborn clouds only emphasize the fact that it’s still winter which can cause a case of the winter blues. But for a gardener, this is the perfect time to begin dreaming up plans for the spring and summer.
January 1st, I whipped out a gardening book and started to underline and make notes in the margins. The book I now have as my reference this season is “The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible” by Edward C. Smith. There are tips and pieces of guidance for a variety of garden related questions. I’ll likely reference it on this blog, and would recommend investing in some garden books (possibly from a used bookstore) or seeing what your local library has to offer!
This is also a good time to refresh your memory on what went wrong last year as well as what went right. If you don’t already, it’s a good idea to have a gardening journal to record useful information for future reference. Here are some samples from mine that I started last year:
Fun fact: Did you know Thomas Jefferson had a gardening journal for about 60 years that he started at age 23? I heard this on a podcast called “A Way to Garden” with Margaret Roach. Podcasts, radio shows, reading material, and looking through a personal garden journal are all wonderful ways to transport yourself into the realms of sunshine and warmth when the air is still nippy outside.
Now the really fun part: planning out a design, what veggies/fruits you want to grow, as well as which varieties. You may have varieties that are your “go to”, or this may be your first year and have no idea where to begin. When looking for varieties to try out, use Google to search for varieties suggested for your growing area. This year in our garden, after searching around, it was decided we should try out “Jet Star” and “Better Boy” for two of our tomato varieties. If your doing container gardening, look for varieties that are known to work well for that purpose, such as dwarf tomatoes. Also look into what the local seed companies and greenhouses typically carry. Like my gardening book suggested, if a seed company can successfully grow a variety, it’s more likely to work for your garden as well. This year I decided to try out Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, so we’ll see how that works out! Later on we’ll focus on heirloom varieties, but for now we’re just dipping our toes into the thawing out of winter.
Also look at what is likely to give you the most back for the effort and resources you put in to the garden, as well as what you’ll actually eat. We typically eat a lot of tomatoes and squash. In the winter, we end up using canned tomatoes for sauces, stews, etc. We also end up buying squash at the store, which is tough to spend money on after you realize how much you can get out of growing a garden! From this starting point, you can start to draw out a layout and plan how many of each plant you think you’ll need. Mine usually evolve and five drafts later, it’s still changing! Here is my most recent:
So grab a journal, pen or pencil, a nice hot drink, and dive into the planning stage. It’ll be time to start seedlings before you know it!
Speaking of seedlings… Let’s check out what’s growing already!
These are Chives planted from seed in a repurposed large yogurt container-
They were planted on 1/22/17, and on 1/24/17 I saw the beginning of chive seedlings. Some were surface planted, some were covered with a little bit of soil. This was purposeful because I was curious if it mattered, and also wanted to attempt to re-create what may happen in nature. For whatever the reason, the chives found it all very agreeable and decided to take root right away! In a future post I’ll walk through how I plant seedlings more in depth (technique, materials, etc.)
Here’s the thing, though. The chives weren’t supposed to be sprouting for a while, but they decided to make their appearance extra early. Just a couple days after planting actually. They are growing quickly – which means they’re going to need more light soon so that they don’t end up stressed out (aren’t we all when we don’t get enough sun?). If you don’t see sprouts as fast as this though, don’t lose heart. Experiment with temperature, light, moisture, etc. You can even play them different types of music, I won’t judge. At the very least, you’ll enjoy the tunes.
See you next time, and don’t forget each garden is unique. Craft your garden!