This is the view outside my back door today.
Although it still looks a little wintery, it is a huge change from the view only a week or so ago.
I take great encouragement from the fact that I can actually see the deck boards.
Spring is coming.
Which means that garden planting is only a few months away, and seed starting is only a few weeks away.
It’s time to pull out the seed catalogues!
I must admit that this is one of my favourite parts about gardening, this winter dreaming when I get to imagine all of the wonderful things I will grow this year. (and in my dreams there are no weeds, deer or blight!)
So, if you are a newbie gardener, or just curious, here is how we go about planning our garden.
1. Find a good seed company. You can buy standard vegetable seeds at many hardware stores, but with a seed company you are going to get to choose from a wider variety of stock, hopefully have heirloom and organic seed to choose from, and if you find a local seed company, you will find plants that will do well in your area. The number of seed companies out there can sometimes be overwhelming, if you aren’t sure where to begin, ask a fellow gardener where they purchase their seeds. Mapple farm is our number one choice, because they are local and only sell what they grow, so we know that the plants will do well in our weather and short growing season.
2. If you aren’t planning on growing fields of veggies, find someone to share seeds with. You can only fit so many plants in a certain area, and although it can be tempting to plant all of the seeds in the packet, it truly is a recipe for disaster. Which means that you often have lots of seeds leftover. Last year we discovered the solution to this problem when we began seed sharing with some of our garden-growing family. We each buy half of the seeds we will grow, and then divvy up the seeds between us. It keeps costs down, lets us grow a greater variety of plants, and there are less seeds to try and keep for next year (and hope they still sprout.)
3. Thumb your way through the seed catalogues and dream, dream, dream! This is the point in the process when I decide I’m going to grow 5 varieties of tomatoes, 2 kinds of turnip, and an heirloom perennial onion.
4. Come back to reality and determine how many plants you can grow in the space that you have. Plants need room. If they don’t have enough room they can crowd each other out, or become diseased (ask me how I know.) On the other hand, you don’t need to stress out and do a sheet of calculations to determine what will fit. Use the planting guidelines in the seed catalogues to figure out about how much room each plant will take, and then only order what you can reasonably fit in your garden. This is the point in the process where I cut tomato varieties down to 3 and cut out the turnips altogether. But I keep the onions, because you have to grow something fun and funky in your garden!
5. Order your seed and then
check the mailbox every day patiently await their arrival.
And while you wait you can imagine your summer garden, full of beautiful plants and tasty things to eat.
Have you started your garden plan? What will you be growing this year?