Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March - The Garden Start

January brought food changes (an eliminate/challenge diet, reduced gluten and sugar consumption, etc.)

February brought The Great Declutter (removing unnecessary items from the house and adopting rules for new acquisitions)

March brings the start to gardening.


I'm going to attempt to start my garden from seed this spring.  I made a valiant attempt last year, forgetting that I would be leaving for India 3 weeks after starting, that resulted in dried up little cubes of dirt.  But with no travel plans and a much larger space to grow (our 4 bedroom house rather than our 1 bedroom apartment) I smell some success brewing.  Despite my confidence, I have set aside some money for plant flats at the farmer's market again because, well, there's a chance I'll fall flat on my face again.

Having started seeds last year, I should have plenty left to start again this year, right?  Well, not exactly.  I was not careful when storing my seeds which resulted in an accidental spill and caused a proverbial seed orgy within my little plastic baggie.  I have no idea what is what.  So, I started anew.  After some price checking, I placed orders with three online heritage seed companies.
  • Baker Seed Company is providing me with some of my produce and most of my flowers and herbs.
  • Sustainable Seed Company is provided me with the majority of my produce, a few flowers and a few herbs.
  • Stargazer Perennials is providing me with softneck garlic and 3 kinds of potatoes (fingerling, yukon gold, all blue)
My seeds came today!
I'm going to attempt to build two new beds in addition to using the space from last year.  One 4'x4' bed will be in the sunniest spot in the backyard, the second will be on the side of the front yard.  I'll wait until I have pictures to show before telling you all the gory details of my plans.  But I will say that I have a colored spreadsheet - that's how excited I am.

I will say this - I'm going to attempt succession planting this year.  Meaning, I'm hoping to get nearly 3 times the produce from roughly the same planting area.  I've done a lot of reading on spring vs. summer vs. fall crops.  I've made spreadsheets of planting and maturation rates for each of my seeds.  By starting my seeds indoors, I'm given a greater window of opportunity and can have a set of plants waiting to be put in the ground while the initial set is finishing up.  For example...
In one bed I'm going to plant an early crop of baby bok choy, which will be started inside and is fairly tolerant to cooler temps.  This plant matures for harvest in 30 days.  In the mean time, I start Leek seeds inside.  When the bok choy is harvested, the leeks and be planted in their place (with some restoration to the soil).  The leeks will grow most of the summer and harvested in September or so.  When the leeks are harvested, I can slip one more crop of bok choy in because a) it was given a head start indoors, b) it can handle the cooler temps into October, c) it matures very fast.  Now expand this idea across most of the garden.
Some plants will be preceded and succeeded by different crops, some by the same - carrots, for example, will just be planted every two weeks or so to ensure a regular crop of mature carrots throughout the summer.  Tomatoes will be planted with beets - by the time the beets mature and are harvested the space they took up will be needed by the tomatoes - leaving the tomatoes plenty of room to grow but not wasting space early in the growing season.  I'm also going to attempt to grow basil among the tomatoes - they like each other and have different root systems, so they should live well together.

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