Thursday, March 3, 2011

Time to think about gardening!

I know it is still winter, but spring is just around the corner.  There is quite a bit you can be doing to get ready for garden season.  I have already written about why I garden and you can find that post here.  If you intend to get a garden going this year, here are some things you can do now to make sure that happens.

Begin a garden journal/devotional.  Just having one place where you are jotting down your thoughts, scriptures, poems, recipes and ideas is helpful. It is good to get your thoughts in order.  This is also a great time to read a new (or old) book on gardening.  Try the thrift store :)

Plan your space.  Make this a family affair.  Figure out how much room you are committing to gardening, what needs to be done and where you intend to plant everything.  Planning is key to a productive garden.  We like to measure everything and lay it out on paper.

Decide what you intend to plant and order seeds.  I use Baker Creek Seeds - they have an awesome selection and test for GMO's.

If you intend to start seeds, this is the time to do it.  You do not have to have a perfect environment.  You need  a warm place, and after the seedlings have popped up, you need to haul them to some sunshine whenever possible.  Water them and let the water drain.  Add some kind of natural food to your water.  The seedlings burn through the available nutrients pretty quickly.  We usually begin tomato, sweet and hot pepper plants, broccoli, brussel sprouts and swiss chard inside.  The other stuff gets direct sowed when the soil is warm enough.

If you need to build boxes, fix fences or acquire pots to plant in, this is the time to work on it.  Often you can find someone who has changed their garden plan and will trade, barter, buy or give you old containers.  Use some of your soil and mix in something good - well rotted compost, some purchased topsoil.... something full of nutrients.  Make sure your pots will drain well and are big enough for the root systems of your plants.

Begin or plan a compost pile.  You don't have to be fancy.  Find a spot, mix equal parts brown, green and hot (leaves, sawdust, straw, kitchen scraps, manure, urine)  and mix occasionally.   You can build a round container out of old fencing or you can use old pallets or you can go with something that spins, turns and works your stuff.   The more you work it, the hotter it gets.  Here are some great links to Organic Gardening.... as far as I am concerned, they are the king of compost :)  You can probably find lots and lots of other articles on compost, these are just three random ones.

Plan to begin a spring garden as soon as you are able to work the soil.  Lettuce, spinach, onions, potatoes, swiss chard, broccoli, brussel sprouts and peas are part of our spring garden plan.  I can't wait!

Do you need to clean up your garden site from last year?  Take a couple of the nice days that always happen in the middle of winter and clean it up.  While you are at it, take a look at your tools and see if you need to replace, repair, sharpen or rethink them.  Make sure you have a somewhat organized place for your tools.  Always searching for a tool is a huge waste of time.

Talk over with your family the amount of resource you plan to use.  Include time, water, money, physical labor and space.  Reassess what you did last year.  Do you need to do something different?  Be open to suggestions from family members.  Step up the chores for the kids and move them up the chore ladder.  A garden is an amazing way to spend great family time.

I would love to hear your garden plans.  Ours are firmly in place and moving on.  It might seem odd to be full steam ahead on your garden when there is still a significant amount of snow on the ground, but if you do not have a plan, your odds of being successful are much smaller.  It is time to start.

Happy Gardening