So, in the spirit of looking forward I started my vegetable garden planning this week.
This will be the third year for our vegetable garden and so far we've gotten mixed results. 2012 was amazing! The garden just flourished and we were eating tomatoes, zucchini, and squash for weeks. Last year the tomatoes and peppers did pretty well, but everything else completely crapped out. Gardening takes work, so I change the game plan slightly each year in an effort in making my hard work to go good use.
Seeds or Plants? I start just about everything by seed. It's worked in the past, it's cheap and easy, and honestly, the process of seed to plant to fruit to belly is as close as I've had the chance to get to the miracle of child birth. And it's magical.
|Pepper plants - 2013|
Planning: Year one was a free for all, whatever fit where is what I went with. At times the garden may have looked a bit overgrown, (see above) but it did so well! Last year I tried the square foot gardening technique and swapped everything around since (apparently) rotation is important and we had a less than stellar year.
In 2014 I happened across this little online planning tool, smartgardener.com and I'm going to go with some of their suggestions, specifically with my timing. We are a Zone 6 area (to get technical on you) and their website does a great job visually showing me when to start what and where.
I totally would have started the basil indoors too soon, and transplanted way too early. Because we had such a crappy winter I'm likely going to stay on the end of each scale provided. So in the basil example, I'll seed mid April and plan on transplanting to the garden the first week of June.
What are you planting?! This year I'm sticking to what has been easy for me in the past, plus a few experiments. Below is a rough idea of the plan in the space I have. I have a large perennial (aka, low maintenance!) herb garden somewhere else that we'll talk about in another post.
|2014 Garden Plan|
Tomatoes: who doesn't plant tomatoes in a home garden?! I've gone both the plant and seed route with these guys before.
Cherry Tomatoes: I will likely buy a plant, so I can eat them very very quickly!
Sweet Grape Tomatoes: I've had great success with seed, so going that way again
Yellow Pearl Tomatoes: I've had great success with seed, so going that way again
Notice I stuck to the small varieties. We'll eat them the most, and I know then ripen quickly and produce all summer with proper pruning. I don't want to waste space with big guys that take all summer.
Greens: I've done all kinds including romaine, mixed greens, rainbow chard, (literally just for it's looks) and arugula.
This year I'm only going to plant what we eat - Mixed Greens, Kale, and Arugula. Greens are super easy and fast growing, I'll start from seed directly in the garden in May. The sun in my garden faces from the top of that diagram, just about all day. It's good to know where your sun is. In my plan I know my tomatoes will block that sun and create shade for my greens! Greens to best in the spring when it's still cool around here and with partial shade during the day!
Carrots: I've failed at these twice so far, but I'm not a wimp and I'm hoping the third time is the charm. (Does anyone have any carrot growing tips?!)
Annual Herbs: I love perennials because they are low maintenance and lots of herbs are actually perennials in our zone. For annual herbs I typically only plant the basics.
Basil: This the only herb I'll start indoors. Since it will eventually have a big stock like a tomato I will give it a head start.
Cilantro: Last year I discovered this lasts through the first frost?!
Parsley: I'm really just hoping it's going to serve me well through a frost like the cilantro!
Cucumbers: pickling variety only. These have been a struggle for me. Though, I got new seeds and I'm going to make another effort.
Squash: Year one I picked squash the size of my leg out of my garden! Last year, I think I got two, total! We can make entire meals of this veggie during the summer. I'm really hoping they do well. I think I'll start them inside and then milk carton green house them just after the transplant.
Beans: Last year I planted these just so my neighbor's daughter could have something to take care of. They love my garden. But they were so delicious and I'm really just planting them to be a snack during all my hard work.
|Garlic - 2013|
So that was a long winded post! Who hung in there? Let's do an ice breaker, if you could plant one veggie and be guaranteed it would flourish, what would it be?
Please at least take away the tip of finding your sun and playing with it and different height veggies to make a small garden work for you.
And I pick giant pumpkin!