The seed catalogs started arriving in December, on January 8th we started the garden planning process...
First we decide what we need to grow, we have the garden journals from past years handy and the list of our favourite varieties from years past, and I always like to try a new variety or two each year. We plot out the garden on graph paper and start allocating space.
This year is particularly easy as this is a new garden we do not have to worry about rotating crops, we can just plan out the summer progression. The easiest way to do this is to have a list of what you want to grow with the maturity dates for each plus a note as to the seed start date.
my list looks something like this:
Black beauty, 50 days, start inside mid April (for relish)
Gold Rush, 50 days, start inside mid April (for relish)
Sunny Delight, 40 days, Start inside mid April 5 plants/ week/ 4 weeks (table)
Honey butternut, 85 days, start inside late April. Will follow spinach in garden (winter store canned and root cellar)
Table queen acorn, 80 days, start in pots mid may. Will follow first round of baby greens (winter store, root cellar)
Vegetable spaghetti, 90 days, Start inside, mid may. (winter stores)
Patio hybrid, 70 days, start inside early March ( planters)
Sun gold F1,, 60- 65 days, start early March season producer (planters)
Artisan Bumble bees *New*, Side garden, start early March
Slicing / Sauce:
Brandy wine, 78 days, start inside mid February. (stakes)
Scotia 60 days, start inside early March
Lemon Boy, 75 days, start inside early March (stakes)
Roma, 75 days, start inside early March
San Marzano, 75 days start inside early March
Armand, *new*,65-70 days. Direct seed early July for cold frames.
Laurentian, 70 days, direct seed Early July.
So that was the last page of my list for this year. I have tried different things over the years, but this is what works best for me. We go through the catalogues and write up our order. When the seed orders come in I have bags labeled with planting dates and the seeds go directly into the appropriate bags, everything is ready for planting. Now that we are getting underway with planting I just pull out the bags and seed the trays on the dates listed. I broadcast seed into trays, if you are putting more than one thing into a tray, most of mine are like this, it will help if you check the germination times on the package and sow seeds with similar germination times together. This usually isn't a big deal with veggies, but a lot of herbs, especially perennial ones can have germination dates up to 28 days and you don't want those in a tray with something that will be up and running after 7 days.
( this is what comes from trying to organize a house full of 5 kids - uberorganization)
The next step in garden planning is to know where everything will go. There are patterns that we follow every year and I made note of some of these in my lists. Companion planting also becomes second nature after a couple of years. Things like planting our chives around the edge of the carrot and parsnips to ward off the carrot fly. We also try to plant squash and pumpkin around the outside edges so they don't take up valuable real estate when they start to take off. It is also helpful to list anything you plan to put in containers or somewhere other than your main garden area.
There are commonsense things that we all forget, one of the first years we grew corn we didn't take height into consideration and ended up shading our cucumbers out of existence! Try and picture everything at it's peak growing size and plan accordingly, remember to leave space to get into your garden beds to harvest. We tend to prefer traditional double beds with paths for the veggie garden, but most of my herbs are keyhole beds. There is no right or wrong, there are no garden police who will come and get you. Unless you live under a home owners association, then you are very likely to have garden police come visit you.
You can over analyse this to death, the basic rules are grow what you eat, start small, try different varieties, have fun and enjoy your food!
Later this week I'll walk you through our seed starting mix and seeding in some trays, plugs and soil blocks. Have a great day everyone!