It is cold outside today. Perfect time for a hot cup of tea, my seed box and a stash of seed catalogs. Time to plan the next gardening season.
The first step is to take stock of the previous season, which I kind of do as I go along. I take notes throughout the season and then make a summary in late fall. I reflect on what worked well in the garden and what did not, and take note of what vegetable varieties I would like to grow again this season and in what quantities (same/more/less). Are there any new vegetables or varieties I might want to try this year? Are there any that I will definitely not grow again (because they did not do well, I did not like the taste, they took up too much space, required too much labor, were decimated by pests etc.).
Second, I take inventory of my seeds. I store all my seeds in a single cardboard box and use simple card stock dividers to sort the seeds by vegetable. Every winter/early spring, I go through the box and discard the old seeds and make a list of vegetable seeds I need to buy for the next season.
I then plan the layout of my plot and draw up a planting diagram for the year. I like to rotate crops and this is this year’s plan:
Here is my general plan for the garden plot for 2019:
- tomatoes (6 to 8 plants total: 3-4 early, 3-4 mid/late)
- eggplant (2-3 plants)
- hot pepper (1-2)
- cucumber (1 cell of 3-4 plants)
- butternut squash (1)
- basil (5)
- carrots (2 rows spring, 2 rows summer/fall)
- radishes (2 rows)
- garlic (5 rows)
- golden beets (1 row)
- fingerling potatoes (1 large hill)
- Swiss chard (1 row)
- kale (4 plants)
- leaf lettuce (1 row)
- head lettuce (1 row)
- peas (2 rows)
- bush beans (2 rows)
- pole beans (1 tipi)
- leeks (2 rows)
- fall greens (1 row)
- bok choy (1 row)
- spinach (1 -2 rows in the fall)
- flowers: dahlias, cosmos, sunflower, zinnia, nasturtium, marigold
For my back porch, I am planning: 1-2 tomato plants (I will select varieties that are suited for containers), 1 hot pepper, 1 mini eggplant, chard, head and/or leaf lettuce, herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary, parsley, basil, mint) and flowers.
Now comes the fun part — I browse the seed catalogs (paper copies and online) and make a preliminary list of interesting varieties to consider. I will then narrow down the varieties and prepare my final seed orders. I have yet to start saving my own seeds. Maybe this is the year?