Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2014 Garden Plan

Right now there is nothing to do in the garden. Once that changes, my hands will be full and there will be times it may seem like too much to handle. With a game plan established and communicated team work, I know we can handle it. So long as we plan now.

Now that we have some garden beds started and crop rotation in effect, we can focus on cutting spring expenses by organizing our saved seeds and our next-season planting ideas. Our compost cycle is in full effect and I feel ready to set some personal records. Based off the seeds we have saved from last year and the plants which are working their way back into our garden season-after-season, we can form a general plan to know what we need to have done at the start and finish of each month.

Organizing Seeds

Some plants seem to hold a special place here, almost as if they found this garden not by my choice. And not once but twice. I mean, seed catalogues are appealing, convincing, and everywhere. A seed planted here the first time can be attributable to me, one may say. But for a seed to be planted twice, thrice and counting is pointing towards a larger force’s discretion. But that’s my opinion. These are the seeds that have been here more than once and will continue.

·         Midnight Turtle Black Bean (bush bean)
·         Hopi Red Beans (bush bean)
·         St. Valery/Dragon Carrots
·         Winter Luxury Squash (best for pumpkin pies)
·         Black Mustard Seeds (because Indian food is better than American)
·         Anasazi Sweet Corn (I gave this to my Dad in 2011)

These seeds we grew in our garden for the first time in 2013 and plan on growing again this season.

·         Anasazi Cave beans (pole bean)
·         Cherokee Trail of Tears beans (pole bean)
·         German Butterball potatoes (maincrop)

One thing we grew once and fell in love with are Fat Mama Sunflowers. Last season we forgot to plant them. This year we won’t make that same mistake. We also had-a-go at golden berries but they did not finish in time due to a late start. Not this year.

Forming a plan is more like a guide system than a definite step-by-step approach. We have our main areas of focus and still enjoy the impulses to buy random seeds and plants when we’re out-and-about. Each year it starts off with marigolds, perhaps a few herbs, and maybe some ghost pepper plants at the first farmers market. Who knows where it will go this year.

Month-by-Month Plan

March

This is the month we want to make sure all seeds are ready. We order the German Butterball potatoes from the Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) and they allow us to choose the date the potatoes will ship. It’s an order-and-forget thing. Then they show up at the door and we plant them. Other than potatoes, most of the seeds we have are from last year. And other than the SSE, most of the seeds came from Horizon Herbs, located in Oregon, such as all the bean varieties. (And more). I recommend checking them out.

This is the time to start broccoli indoors in northeast Pennsylvania. We also have started it at the end of April with good results. With limited space in the brassica bed this season we plan on starting some Purple Peacock broccoli to give away to family and friends but will hold off on growing it through ourselves. We will make up for it by growing plenty of Romanesco (a type of broccoli).

This is when the golden berries should have been started last year but were not. They ended up flowering and forming a fruit but did not have the chance to ripen. Now we know.

April

Earth Day has been our first garden day for the past 3 years. This year we will be starting the Romanesco in containers and sowing the first half of the carrots directly in the ground. Spinach will be started in a container too.

We had dragon fruit seeds on back order for almost a full year and will be attempting to grow them. My girlfriend loves them in smoothies but they often look crappy in the grocery stores and are expensive. We’ll sow the seeds on Earth Day and hope for the best.

Other than the planting schedule, we will be getting organized during spring and building a new compost site. Potting soil, seeds, and a dependable pitchfork must be acquired. Containers must be cleaned along with a spring clean-up of the yard. And one more thing - I suck at growing grass and the dogs don’t help. We have a mud pit in the front yard waiting to happen and that too, must be taken care of.

May

By May, I’ll give away all the Purple Peacock broccoli to family and friends and motivate them to have it in the ground this month. I can also plant more spinach. The beginning of the month will start off slow. That’s O.K. Pick-ups from the local CSA will be circulating and I’ll be working double full-time weeks. Work will begin to slow down by the last week of May and the garden will pick up. This is joy-time peak mode and it likes to linger.

Depending on the weather and the last spring frost, we may start sowing seeds in the ground the last week of May. More carrots are a definite along with cilantro. Last year I realized how much it can suck buying cilantro from the store at the same time I realized how much I enjoy cilantro; therefore, I want a steady supply this year. I like to start bush beans in the ground and in containers for back-up. This can be done now along with a first row of pole beans and corn to support their growth. We will transplant our romanesco plants and sow rutabaga seeds, filling in our brassica bed for the season.

June

The first week of June is a deadline to me. June 7th. Seeds must be planted or I will die. Pole beans and corn, more bush beans, potatoes, and winter luxury pumpkin seeds must be planted. Black Mustard seeds and Fat Mama Sunflower seeds too. A trip to the farmers markets and this place and that place will add plants as we see fit on impulse. It’s the most exciting week of the year.

Then everything changes. There’s an eery silence that almost hums throughout the following week as the all the seeds direct their energy outward and all the established root systems of plants transplanted into the ground take their time to fully reconnect themselves. Time slows. One month goes by in the length of a week. Then it’s on.
 
And then it’s November.

But that’s as far as we’re planning for now. Once the ball is rolling things take place. With a general guide I’ll know where to place my energy in the midst of organized chaos and unseen impulses. Hard work in the past is paying off going into our fourth season. This is the least amount of physical work and the least amount of money we have had to put out to get the ball rolling to start our garden. And I think it will also be the most plentiful.
 
Until then ... hello snow.

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