For Those About to Sow. I Salute You
The temps are low, the wind is howling, we’re kicking ourselves for once again not having the cash to buy a wood stove. Yep, it is officially January, and we’re cold. We’re blessed with large windows, but they’re old and drafty. In the evening when we sit down to watch Jeopardy with Jack (we’re crazy cool like that), I usually bundle up under Bennett’s quilt and sometimes a fleece jacket.
Many of those nights, I keep myself extra warm with thoughts of spring and summer gardening. With seed catalogs stacked next to me, I think about the warm soil in my fingers, the excessive amount of sunscreen on my pasty skin, and of course complaining because it is too hot. A time honored tradition for us in the Northwest.
This past year was fine for the garden. Nothing stellar, but no big failures. “We” added some awesome garden support trellises to two of the garden boxes “we” built a few years ago. The chickens didn’t accidentally plant any pumpkins this year, so we didn’t have any Sugar Pie gourds randomly popping up throughout the blueberries or tomatoes. After saving up to buy four more blueberry plants last year, my blueberry hook up was sold out by time I got off my butt to go track him down. I totally flaked on planting my garlic in October for the first time in four years. Oh well, I’ll get it in the ground in the spring as soon as possible. That is the beauty of gardening – “there’s always next year” is something that you can say with a straight face, and legitimately believe it for a time.
Years ago, I mentioned I wanted to build up the main planting area in our front yard. Still hasn’t happened. I feel like this is the year it finally will. 🙂 Troy and I worked for hours on a gorgeous day in early November, and properly put the garden to bed with a layer of cardboard, a hefty dose of composted chicken manure (I think I hauled 150 gallons of clucker crap that day), and a nice topping of straw. It was a half-assed lasagna bed, but it will work.
As every year, I have huge plans for the garden. I am also somewhat out of excuses this spring, as I’m no longer working and Bennett is not a little infant who just wants to be held all day long. So this is the year of the epic perfect garden. This is also the year I’m already lying and not a thing is in the ground. Usually I don’t start deceiving myself until April at least. This is also the gardening season that I have declared “seed bankruptcy” and have decided to start with fresh seed instead of limping along with old stock that I have not stored properly. I am getting all new seeds, excluding my garlic that I save year after year to replant.
In terms of infrastructure projects, I really do want to build up that main gardening bed with another layer of pavers. It will expand my planting options, as I can add things that prefer to grow more deeply that current conditions allow. I’m going to try potato growing bags for the first time. During our garage clean out this summer, I found some that I had purchased already and never used. Whoops. Still figuring out where they’ll go, but they’ll find a home. I dug up all our raspberry canes in October 2015 to try to combat the morning glory invasion in that planting bed. Results were mixed, so I will keep fighting the good fight, while the replacement canes do their thing. This may be the last year of our strawberry bed; I think the plants are done. I probably should have ripped them out last year, but I got lazy. I’d love to do strawberry pyramids or trellises so that they grow up and I can expand our crop…but I really hate to water the garden and that all sounds like something you have to maintain. Other than that, we are officially out of space. Our little lot is packed to the gills, and not much more can be added.
I have decided to own the fact that I am terrible at planting lettuces, spinach, and carrots. It is a trainwreck every single year. But, because all gardeners are slightly delusional, this is the year I am going to get that ish right.
In terms of plants/seeds, here is my plan for this coming season. Please note, we’re Zone 8. All seeds are from Territorial Seeds, or Baker Creek.
Late winter planting
-Peas sown on President’s Day (this has always worked well for me)
-Potatoes planted on St. Patrick’s Day (also been a success): German butterball, and Yukon Gold
Early spring planting
-Beets: Early Wonder Tall Top, Bull’s Blood
-Blueberry bushes: add four more to the herd
-Carrots: Candysnax (dibs on that for a porn name), Napa
-Kale: Nero di Toscana, always my go to kale. It’s the workhorse of the garden
-Lettuce (sigh): Buttercrunch, Oaky Red Splash (also a fabulous porn name), Simply Salad City Garden Mix (a blended salad mix that comes in pellets. I think even I can grow that)
-Peas: Lincoln (shelling), Sugar Ann (snap pea, and um…porn name)
Summer planting (always around Mother’s day for us)
-Basil: Sweet Basil
-Cucumbers: Diamant (pickling), Sweet slice (fresh eating)
-Peppers: Shishito for this recipe
-Pumpkins: Small sugar
-Squash: Grey Griller, Patio Star
-Tomatoes: Flamme (this is my favorite tomato and I should save the seeds this year. I can never find seeds, so I end up buying the plant at the farmer’s market), Momotaro, Taxi, Gill’s All-Purpose, Cherokee Purple, San Marzano (saucing), Heinz (saucing), Principe Borghese (saucing).
I have grown almost all of these successfully in the past :coughspinachlettucebeetscarrotscough:, and I know that they are types that work well in my garden, soil, and climate. After years of experimenting, I have found that it is best for my space to stick to one or two kinds of each plant. Going all crazy on different varieties quickly eats up my very limited space. Where I divert from that idea is tomatoes. Tomatoes are the king of my garden, and I love to grow so many different kinds. If we had more land, I’d easily have 50-75 plants. With our current set up, I usually am pushing the limit at 15-18. For the past few years, I have frozen all my excess tomatoes, and then canned them in fall/winter when I had time. I have recently discovered my love of the versatile whole peeled tomato, so I’m going to have to suck it up and can those during the peak of the season. Eff. Balls. I hate it, but it’s worth it.
So, seed orders are getting placed soon. I should be digging out my seed starting gear, and most importantly tracking down a place in the house where I can set up my seeds and grow lights without Bennett being all up in there. Do they make tiny barbed wire fences? I kid, I kid. Electric fencing won’t leave scars and seems like a much more humane choice.
What are you growing this year? Expanding your garden? Starting fresh? Reducing the size of it? And most importantly, if you take the name of your first pet, and the name of the first street you ever lived on, what would be your porn name?*