We begin each new gardening year with hope: not looking back to last year's failures, but forward to the coming successes. They say the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. While some may think gardeners are insane, 'Ha ha', they do what worked last year but do not expect a similar outcome. Success in the garden depends upon too many variables: what sort of winter we had, the upcoming weather, which bad bugs overwintered in your soil, the viability of saved seeds, and much more. As I sort new seed packets, however, I forget the capriciousness of gardening and remember only the joys. I feel a new, breathless awe every time I see that my first tray of seeds have germinated. This year is going to be a GREAT year in the garden!
|Packeted seeds and saved seeds, for the new gardening year|
I don't always get my new seeds from the same place. I decided to try Ferry Morse's organic selection for 2018. Ferry Morse was the largest seed suppliers in the world at one time. They are located in Massachusetts, therefore I feel their seeds should thrive in my northeast garden. I don't purchase plants or seeds from suppliers south of the Mason Dixon Line, or from other more exotic climes. Recently, I acquired some seeds from the American Horticultural Society's (AHS) seed exchange. While it's great to receive free seeds, I was disappointed they were mainly last year's seed packets rather than seeds collected by gardeners from their gardens. Also, a 2017 packet of parsnip seeds from the AHS probably will not be viable as parsnip seeds need to be fresh each year. (I don't know what I was thinking when I added parsnips to my request list.) Previously, I have participated in Nancy Ondra's seed exchange and have been the recipient of her wonderful bounty. Next year ...
I have developed a routine that I write about here every March. For newer followers of my blog: I begin by sorting the seed packets by the date they will be sown, then placing them in order in my trusty wooden seed box. I add each seed's sowing date to a calendar.
Next, I make a plan (a rough one but more-or-less to scale) of my kitchen garden's raised beds. I write the name of the plant in the current year's location. The plan is important, so that I don't place the same vegetable or flower in the same spot as last year. This isn't foolproof for preventing disease, but it helps. I am not growing sunflowers at all this year, because the stem borer attacked two years running, even though I grew them in different locations.
|This year's plan|
|As you probably know, I use raised beds and the square-foot gardening method.|
When my planning is done, it's time to sow seeds -- according to their appropriate starting date. This week I began with tomatoes and snapdragons. I set up a seed-starting station on a card table in the dining room. I use table-top grow lights. I will direct-sow other seeds outside at the proper times.
My next step will be to prepare the garden beds by adding compost and putting suitable plant supports in place. I think most of the snow has gone, but it's still too cold for me to work outside. Maybe next week.
|I love my cucumber frame. I bought this support from Gardeners' Supply|
I have not forgotten my beautiful, new cold frame. I purchased seeds for lettuce, spinach, Kale, and other cool weather crops. I will direct-sow them in the cold frame as soon as the soil is workable.
|Swiss chard grew successfully in the cold frame after the first frost|
Another gardening spot is the herb garden, a waist-high trug on the patio near the back door. I will start some herbs from seed indoors, and will purchase some plant-starts from my local farm store. I will plant the herb garden after the date of the average last frost.
Finally, my cutting garden is located in the kitchen garden. It is a long, raised bed down the length of one side. I will start zinnias, marigolds, and cosmos for cutting. Oh yes, and I started the snapdragons already.
|Cutting garden on left hand side plus a few zinnias among the vegetables|
Yes, it's going to be a GREAT gardening year. Can't wait to get out there!
What are your plans this year?
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