It’s about that time of year. Time to start planning for this year’s garden!!!
I always start getting excited for the garden in January. The holidays are over and it’s usually freezing cold or snowing. Thinking about the garden cheers me up in an otherwise dreary season.
This year will be my fourth year of gardening. As I was planning I came up with a couple of themes for this year’s garden. The first is Small & Manageable. Since we’ll have a newborn this summer, there is no way that Benzo or I can manage another large garden. Heck we couldn’t even manage it last year and all we did was go on vacation!
The second theme for this year’s garden is Eat Fresh. The past couple of years I have been too concerned with preserving food that I forgot the best part about having a garden is having the freshest produce possible. So this year I am not going to worry about preserving anything and will try to focus on eating most of our harvest immediately.
Decide What to Plant
When I plan my garden, the first thing I do is decide what I want to grow this year. To help decide what to plant, I made three lists:
- Definitely Want to Plant
- Definitely Do Not Want to Plant
- Maybe Want to Plant
The Definitely Want to Plant list is just what it says. A list of vegetables I definitely want to plant this year. This list includes:
- Bell Peppers
- Cayenne Pepper
I tried to keep the list to the necessities. I included strawberries even though my patch is already established because I want to keep in mind that I’ll have to take care of them. Benzo added the cayenne pepper because his seedlings died last year and he wants to try them again this year.
The Definitely Do Not Want to Plant list includes:
Each one of these has a reason for being excluded. Zucchini is actually very easy to grow, but our garden was overrun with squash bugs last year. So we’re going to give the garden a break from squash this year in hopes that the squash bugs go away. Zucchini is very easy to find at the farmers’ market so we can still enjoy it homegrown.
Pumpkin is excluded because the plants take up a ton of space and we just don’t use fresh pumpkin when cooking very often. Corn is excluded because we didn’t have great luck growing it last year and because good homegrown corn is extremely easy to get in Kansas. And cheap too. We can easily stock our freezer with fresh corn from the farmers’ market.
Carrots are excluded because they are a pain to plant and thin and we never get that many of them in the end. Peas are also on this list because although I can get the plants to grow, I don’t get that many peas off them. Potatoes were fun to plant last year but I just don’t know if they are worth my time. And though I can get turnips to grow to the size of softballs I just don’t like the taste that much.
The Maybe Want to Plant list includes:
- Bush beans
The Maybe list is for veggies I would like to plant if I can, but I’m not going to be sad if I don’t get around to them. I think I already have seeds for all these veggies, so it’s just a matter of putting them in the ground. Lettuce is so great straight from the garden and very easy to grow. Plus it’s a spring crop and will be done by the time the tomatoes and peppers are gearing up. Radishes fall into the same group as lettuce – easy to grow, spring crop. And they grow very fast which is nice.
Bush beans are also easy to grow and great to eat fresh. But they can be a pain to pick and snap. Kale is so healthy and low maintenance. Watermelon is so delicious from the garden and I’ve had good luck with it the past three years. I’m hoping most of these veggies make it into the garden this year.
Set the Dates
Once I had a good idea of what I want to plant, I went through and set the dates for planting. If you’ve read my previous post on garden planning, you’ll know that the first thing to do is figure out your frost-free date. In my area the frost-free date is around Mother’s Day or the weekend before. So I set my big planting weekend for either April 30th or May 7th. That weekend I tentatively plan to transplant all my seedlings and direct sow veggies like bush beans and watermelon.
From that weekend I count back the weeks to figure out when I’ll start seeds indoors. Eight weeks prior to April 30th is when I’ll start tomatoes. Ten weeks prior is when I’ll start all varieties of peppers. Then sometime in late March or early April, depending on the weather and when we can work the ground, we’ll direct sow the spring crops like lettuce, radishes, and kale. So the tentative garden calendar is:
February 19th – start pepper seeds indoors
March 5th – start tomato and basil seeds indoors
Mid-March – Early-April – direct sow spring crops in the garden
April 30th or May 7th – Big Planting Weekend
I’m trying really hard to keep the garden small this year on account of the new addition to the family and the fact that I’ll be 7-9 months pregnant during planting. I really hope I have the energy to keep this schedule!
Tip: If you are planning to start seeds indoors, start saving yogurt containers now so you can make your own seed containers.