February is garden planning season.
Each year, I find it hard not to get ahead of myself. I order all of these great seeds, make a rough plan of how I’ll get them all to fit, and then I wait.
Suddenly it’s the middle of June, nothing is in the ground and I’m losing valuable growing time. Part of a great garden is planning- being prepared so seeds and seedlings are ready to sow the first day possible.
Over the years I’ve come to learn that during the Spring months, if you aren’t ahead, you’re behind. There is no middle ground. Consider these 10 steps to stay ahead of your garden’s needs and grow your best kitchen garden yet.
1. Decide what space you’ll use. How much space will you have? Will it be a window sill, community garden space, or a 4×4 plot? What ever you decide, identify how much space you have to work with and become familiar with the space. Take note of lighting, potential pests, and soil composition. Not counting the newest beds we’re installing, we’re working with about 175 sq. ft. of space- we have a lot of planning to do.
2. Make a list of your favorite dishes. Think of your favorite seasonal meals to cook. Don’t think about your garden. Go. stir-fry, salads, soups, more stir-fry, bread, burritos, pad Thai, more stir-fry…
3. What can you grow for these dishes? Creating meals out of produce you’ve grown yourself is a part of what makes gardening so satisfying. So think about it. What can you grow for the dishes you listed in step 2? onion, garlic, chicken, egg, lettuce, peppers, beans, cilantro, green onions, peas, cucumbers, tomato, squash…
4. What else do you buy a lot of that you can grow? Think of what you enjoy buying to snack on or add to dishes that you might enjoy. Do you stock up on strawberries when they are buy 1, get 1? Do you eat a lot of quinoa? Consider these things as you’re thinking about what to grow. It may surprise you what can be grown in a backyard garden.
5. Put all of these things in order of importance. Consider what you will use the most of. Whether it’s a window sill garden or our 175 sq. ft. of garden, it helps to know what is most important to fit in.
6. What can you fit into your space. This is where you do a little research and draw a plan. What will fit where, will it do well with certain neighbors, and what type of watering will it require.
7. What is your growing season? The root of this question is really- what are the planting dates for everything you plan to grow.
9. Prepare the space before planting dates. This could be a post on it’s own. In short- create the beds, test the soil, and establish a plan for watering.
10. Keep notes. Keep notes about success and troubles in 2014 to create a bigger and better garden in 2015!
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