Living in the Northern Hemesphere, where winter gardens wear a blanket of snow and ice, I would sink into despondency and dejection without the annual ritual of planning for the new growing season. I traditionally begin by studying the diversity of catalogs appearing in my mailbox as the first snowflakes fall. I am not alone in my love of this pursuit --sitting by the fire, hot chocolate or tea in hand, turning the pages and dreaming. Of course, I have my favorites, choosing from two of them this year: Annie's Heirloom Seeds and Burpee.
Before I list my 2015 choices, I need to take inventory of the seeds I have saved from last year, and the new seeds I won by participating in Debra Prinzing's cyber book party given to celebrate the publication of the 10th anniversary edition of Fran Sorin's book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Creative Gardening. Thank you again, Debra, for this wonderful gift, and thank you, Fran, for a book filled with all that is meaningful about gardening.
|Some of the seeds I won.|
As you know, those of you who follow my gardening antics, I tend to stick to the same veggies each year, planting what we love to eat and what grows well in my garden, but every year I like to try something new. This year I chose seven exciting new-to-me vegetables from my winnings: eggplant 'Ping Tung,' pepper 'Quadrato D'Asti Giallo,' cabbage 'Red Express,' beet 'Chioggia' (looks like candy cane when sliced,) and three heirloom tomatoes, 'Kellog's Breakfast,' 'Pink Accordion,' and 'Minibel.' As I have not grown them before, I welcome hints from anyone who has had success with any of them, dear gardening friends. SEVEN new ones -- way outside my comfort zone -- I have butterflies in my stomach. So.o.o exciting.
Of course, also I must grow the tried and true: Zucchini 'Black Beauty,' cucumber 'Straight Eight,' and bush bean 'Provider' to name just three. My reliable red beet for pickling is a must-have -- 'Detroit Dark Red.' All my choices are organic.
|Old favorites I grow every year.|
|Red beets are a 'must' grow.|
After going on-line and placing my order, the next step is to decide where I am going to grow this bounty. I refer back to my 2014 Kitchen Garden plan. Some years ago, I made a template more-or-less to scale and very easy to fill in. If you compare 2014 and 2015, you will see I rotate my crops to cut down on disease.
Oh, dear, I don't have enough room for all the new veggies. I solved this problem by ordering a large trug planter to be placed on the patio. H.H. and I have discussed putting a planter nearer the kitchen door for herbs. The past few years, I have planted some herbs in cinder blocks, but the blocks don't provide enough root space for large plants. We decided to buy a trug with enough room for tomatoes and peppers, as well as herbs. The planter is waist height, so no bending required -- perfect gardening for the elderly (that's me.)
I wrote a list on a post-it note of the plants going into the new trug. Then one more step in my planning process. I like to write the planning dates on a calendar and place the seed packets in the order they will be sowed -- oops, I guess that's two steps. I dedicate a calendar to gardening (this year, it's the fun Old Farmer's Almanac, Gardening 2015 Calendar.) I write sowing times, then later add germination times as they occur, first true leaves, etc. I keep this calendar in the potting shed and use it to note when I feed my plants, plus information about pests and weather.
|Dates on a calendar; list of plants for the trug on a post-it.|
Finally, I file the seeds in a box, organizing them into categories, by seeds I start indoors (veggies, herbs, and flowers,) seeds I directly sow outside before the last frost date, and those I sow outdoors after the last frost date. I use index cards for dividers. I follow the instructions on the seed packet and use the calendar to figure out the sowing dates. For example, the instructions on the tomato packet are Start seed indoors 4-8 weeks prior to the last frost of spring. Here in the Pocono Mountains there is a 50% chance the last frost date will be mid-May, but from experience, I don't plant outside until Labor Day which falls on May 25 this year. Counting back, I need to start my tomato seeds indoors about April 7. I write the sowing date on each seed packet and place them in date order. When all my seeds have arrived, I may add dividers with the sowing dates.
I hope I explained this clearly -- it may sound complicated, but it's really very simple.
|My seed box is easy to carry around, indoors and out, as I sow the seeds.|
|Now just have to wait until the mailman delivers the seeds I ordered.|
I ordered annual flowers as well as vegetables. I can't wait for the seeds to arrive because it is time to start pansies indoors. I will get dirt under my nails again very soon!
“It always amazes me to look at the little, wrinkled brown seeds and think of the rainbows in 'em," said Captain Jim. "When I ponder on them seeds I don't find it nowise hard to believe that we've got souls that'll live in other worlds. You couldn't hardly believe there was life in them tiny things, some no bigger than grains of dust, let alone colour and scent, if you hadn't seen the miracle, could you?” -- L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams.
What seeds have you ordered this year? I am linking this post to Dee's Virtual Gardening Club. You can join, and tell us about your plans for 2015!
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