I am going to stick with the theme that spring is just around the corner. Although I am a novice, I am beginning to plan my garden for the spring. Last year, we planted a garden because we were unsure of all that was going on around us. This year, I fear I feel the same uncertainty. Rather than sit back, watch, and wait, we are going to be prepared. As prepared as one can be, I suppose. Last year, my friend CiCi was staying with us. CiCi is a magician in the garden. She took a tomato from the store, broke it open, put the seeds and pulp in the ground, and grew and produced six tomato plants from that chaotic mix. I planted seventy-two tomato seeds in starter soil, with good light, in a warm, ideal environment and all seventy-two seedlings died after they sprouted.
CiCi planted a lot of things I don't eat...like radishes. I hate radishes. We had so many radishes that there wasn't room for things I do like. CiCi also grew everything big. I am talking globe sized beets big. What does one do with a beet the size of a globe? I like beets. However, I do not like globe sized beets. CiCi left before we harvested the garden. I was stuck with a ton of radishes. I was stuck with a ton of radishes that were the size of softballs. I fed the radishes and ginormous beets to the pigs. It seemed like a lot of work to feed the pigs. The pigs were happy; I suppose that is a silver lining. By the time harvest arrived, the weeds had taken over. The garden looked like a rural jungle with no rhyme or reason to rows or planting patterns. It was a bit of a disappointment.
This year, I intend to approach the garden with a plan. Not just a plan but a well-laid plan that includes a diagram, a calendar, and some organization. I also plan to continue with my theme of working smarter, not harder. This year, I plan to plant our garden in rows of raised mounds, covered in mulch, with drip hoses running in each mound. I plan to mulch the aisles of the garden to cut back on weeds and mud. I also plan to plant things I like to eat, which do not include radishes. I am intent upon marking my rows with large, long-lasting marking sticks. I am also intent on doing what is called paired plantings. Planting plants that work together and help one another succeed. Things I do not plan to do: weed, water for hours, and grow food just to feed to the pigs.
I know my bibbed overall-wearing buddy will challenge my plan. He always does, and I find it irritating. However, I, too, will be prepared to meet his challenge. We simply don't have time to spend doing traditional gardening techniques. No one likes to pull weeds. Thus it doesn't get done. No one wants to stand in the sun for what seems like hours watering plants. No one likes to run a rototiller because it is hard on one's back, arms and legs. Smarter, not harder, is the theme. Although it will take a bit of work, time and planning initially, I think this raised mound technique will serve us better in the long term.
Planning and planting crops throughout the season is something else I would like to try. Some crops do well in fall and winter, and we can grow at intervals to extend our growing season and fresh harvest. I think it would be wonderful to have fresh, homegrown spinach, kale, cabbage, and Brussel sprouts in early winter. I find this all fascinating and intriguing. I have high aspirations for our garden this year, which gives me something to look forward to during these grey, gloomy days. I wish I had someone who could help me understand the timing, the needs of the plants, and the ideal harvest time. Last year, my green beans were nice and big. I picked a five-gallon bucket of them, blanched, and froze them, only to discover months later from GramBarb that they were too big and too old and had poor flavor. Sigh...I threw them all away.
I will have to become diligent about documenting when things are planted and how many days they grow before harvesting. I think I can do that, but it would be nice to have an experienced person referencing this. I am also going to prepare for the canning season now. I have been buying spices and herbs in larger quantities, so I am not without when canning season arrives. We are well stocked with canning jars, canning lids, and other canning supplies. However, I am purchasing lids to restock what I used last season. Planning the garden and the canning is something that occupies my mind, keeps me focused, makes me feel prepared, and brings me a bit of comfort. I have very good intentions, but as you well know, my good plans often don't turn out the way I envision. However, one must keep aspiring and maintain hope.
I hope, dear reader, you are able to find things to give you hope, help you look forward, and bring you a bit of comfort and happiness. As always, stay safe, stay smart, and keep washing your hands.