Garden Planning

It’s about time to start the garden planning. After all, the first seed catalogs started hitting the mailbox on Dec 26th – a little too early for me but it’s now time:

  • Christmas has been put to bed
  • My office has been purged of old files
  • Tasks for my resolution items have been schedules
  • Football is wrapping up

First off, I need to inventory my seeds and toss any that are too old to be viable. I usually find that I can get 2-3 years from seeds that I plan to start indoors but I admit to sowing more heavily and picking out seedlings if I get too many. For plants that I can’t take the risk on, I buy new each year.

With the list of what are still in the seed packet box, it’s now time to sit down some cold wintry evening with a pleasing beverage, a stack of catalogs, and another stack of Post-it tabs. No editing at this stage –  I just mark everything that is interesting.

Next, I print out a clean copy of the garden template as well as those from the previous three years so I can review plant rotation. I’ve read of more exacting plans for 7 year rotations, but for the size of my garden, and the particular mix of 4′ x 4′, 4′ x 9′, and larger beds ranging from 9′ x 9′ to 12′ x 12′ beds, rotation is a little trickier. I stick to a three-year plan and that has been fine as I haven’t had any issues with either insects or diseases. I’m big on building the soil, so I credit that for my success:  I use not insecticides and very little fertilizer.

With the blank template, I mark in the tried and true plants that I know I will ALWAYS grow:  Silver Queen corn and Better Boy tomatoes among others. Sometimes, I know I am going to grow okra and no longer have seeds so don’t know what variety, for instance. This is where the fun comes in:

I go back through the tagged pages and woefully cut out what I can’t have due to space, time to grow, etc and then select which plants will be new to try. I always want arugula, but maybe this year I’ll try kale since we are suddenly eating it all the time.

Word to the wise, and one I am heading this year:  order seeds early, especially for anything marked as new – it can be very disappointing to find them sold out for the season.

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