Saturday, January 3, 2015

Adding to My Organic Garden Plan

I have a plan.
I love seed catalogs! Colorful, attractive, lush plants that never look like mine but, being the eternal optimist, I keep trying!  So, just after Christmas, as is my custom, I sat down and placed by tomato seed order during TomatoFest's annual sale.  This week, on New Year's Day, I placed my remaining seed order for herbs and vegetables from Baker Creek.  I'm planning to grow more of fewer varieties this year, so it wasn't a very big order.  Carefully, I drew up an intensive plan for my raised beds.  I was feeling really good about the whole process.

I forgot I had ordered these!

Until I pulled out my seed binder from last year.  (I organize my seed packets in inexpensive photo albums which have space near the binding for notations.)  My binder was bulging, which meant that many of the packets were still full of seeds.

What's even worse is that I had, from last year, unopened seed packets of herbs I'd ordered for this year!  What a violation of my own frugal principles!  I can make excuses that there were many non-farm interruptions last year but those are mostly excuses rather than reasons.  So, I have a decision to make:  do I expand the garden and plant the seeds, or sell them, or give them away?  Common sense says to make one choice, but I think I'll try to do all three, after a fashion.
  1. My big garden plot lay fallow last year even though I have sufficient weed block to cover it.  So, I think I will use the weed block to kill off the existing vegetation, then cultivate there by making double-row beds.  I've always had a soggy spot in the lower part of the garden, so I'm re-orienting the beds/rows to run with the slope instead of against it, although I may put a permaculture-style swale at the higher end of the garden.  Since I have twice as many corn seeds as I expected, I can expand the corn plot!  I also will have room for more squash and beans, which are the bulk of my extra seeds.
  2. I had some success selling transplants last year, so I think I will do the same again this year--especially with the "bonus" seeds.  Many folks in the city just need a few plants rather than a full packet and will pay a premium for organic, non-GMO plants, heirloom plants.  I've found that the organic, non-GMO label is not as attractive in the country, but the heirloom varieties (just like Grandma used to grow) have some attraction, especially when potted for the porch.
  3. Although the Garden Writers Association has the wonderful Plant a Row for the Hungry program, my much smaller version is to give away plants suitable for small beds or containers.  Many folks have limited space, especially retirees, so one or two tomato plants could add fresh nutrients to their diet.  It's kind of my version of "green tithing."

I ordered the exact same herbs this year!
I feel less wasteful for having articulated my plan for these windfall resources.  Now, I really need to sit down and plan my in-ground garden.  I've always let the grass get ahead of me, so I'll be trying intensive planting practices there, too, after a fashion.  I'm still flummoxed as to what to do with the "middles" between the double-rows to prevent the grass incursion.  Any ideas?

I'm also starting the "nursery" earlier, I hope.  If I'm to transplant in March, I need to start broccoli & cabbage by mid-January, which works well since they germinate in cooler temperatures.

I've always started tomatoes around Valentines Day but have found many farmers like to set plants out on Good Friday, which means I need to start early varieties plants two weeks earlier for that market.  Last year, though, a wet, frigid spring meant many gardeners planted tomatoes twice or three times.  My raised beds certainly were a boon in that situation both in drainage and soil temperature.

Peppers will be the last to start as they germinate better in very warm temperatures, and, at least in my area, do better when transplanted later than tomatoes.

As space permits, I'll be starting herbs throughout the season to maintain a fresh supply of potted herbs.  They sold better in pots than flats, so I'll expand that this year.  I'm also considering "recipe" containers:  a tomato plant with basil in the same pot sold as a "bruschetta" pot.  Any ideas other other "recipes"?

I have another reality to face:  it's awfully nice to plan my garden, but, when it's 100 degrees with 90% humidity, it's brutal to work it.  I just won't weed when it's that hot, which is when the garden goes wild.  So, preventative gardening is going to be necessary.  Again, any suggestions?

I still have much to plan, but I feel the greenhouse calling me.  Soon, I'll spend a cold evening recreating that little oasis of growth that is my first glimmer of spring.

Stay warm, and think of your garden!


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