If you are anything like me you find this time of year to be stifling, frustrating and sometimes completely overwhelming. The rain never seems to end. The sun seems to take hiatus and leave us with nothing but lackluster dirt and plants who can’t even muster enough energy to be a pretty brown. They are dull and lifeless moving inertly in the cold breeze offering little that is thrilling or inspiring. But as my Facebook page gets weighed down by people’s images of fleeting winter wonderlands and no-school days due to snow, I find myself dreaming about cucumbers and English ivy; a garden so green even Marvell is taken by its beauty.
“No white nor red was ever seen / So am’rous as this lovely green.”
And so this past weekend my wife and I sat down with some tea and a few leftover niblets and began to plan this years “potential.”
We talked about containers, raised beds, our existing landscape and what percentage of self-sustainability we were currently living in. We quickly decided to expand our main garden by another 98 square feet. We opted to remove our tomatoes from the garden bed and grow them instead in containers so as to move them around, if necessary.
Our seed catalogues had long been sitting next to the couch with dog-eared pages and post-it notes as well as highlighted items and notes in the margins. I have been staring at the pages long enough to know the scientific names of some plants I had never even seen before. Between Victory Garden, Main Street Seeds and Johnny’s Selected Seeds we were confident we would have an even better garden than last year.
Armed with a piece of posterboard, a ruler, some Sharpie pens, a Macbook and Excel, we got down to business. I plotted and she entered. Before long we had laid out beds, prepared our seed orders and continued our dream of becoming homesteaders free from the confines of our local grocery store.
• Do your homework. Find seed catalogues and online reviews to match. Remember, plant what you like, not what the books tell you to.
• Find our germination times and hardness zones. The right time to plant is as important as what to plant! If you start indoors and transplant outside you will need to do some basic calendar counting to figure out your key dates.
• Layout your garden on paper. Don’t let your taller plants shade out your smaller ones.
• Think about companion planting so you can make the most of your soil.
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