Thursday, February 7, 2013

2013 Garden Plans, Goals, and Other Musings

Earlier this month I inventoried my seeds and did a rough sketch of the garden layout for this year. I don't need a lot of seeds, but a list was developed and a small order placed with Fedco.

My first year as an independent graphic designer has been an adventure. I have gained some wonderful clients and worked on some enjoyable projects, but income is inconsistent. Having a variety of canned, dried, frozen, and stored produce from the garden certainly helped me feel secure at times. Even during the low times we ate very well.

This year, I want to increase the types of foods that we have been relying on through the winter months:

Root Crops: I am adding some new root crops such as turnip, parsnip, celeriac, and salsify. These can be stored in our basement and used in stews and soups over the winter months. I am also increasing the crops I regularly grow such as carrots and onions. Potatoes grown last year have served us well and should last until spring. I plan on planting the same amount this year.

Herbs: I want to grow chamomile, mint, lavender, and other herbs that can be used for teas. Since I work from home, I find it convenient to keep a teapot of water hot on the wood stove during cold winter days. Herbal tea grown from my garden will be a real treat next winter.

Canned Goods: As far as canned foods, I want to increase the jams and jellies canned. I now make my own yogurt and find a couple spoons of jam or jelly a perfect flavoring addition. We grow raspberries, blueberries, grapes, and apples on our property. Other fruits can be acquired from local farms.

I am diversifying the types of paste tomatoes grown to hopefully grow enough for canned tomato sauce and salsa to last us at least until the next growing season. Most years this is not a problem. As mentioned previously, disease reduced tomato yield last year. Adding some disease resistant hybrid varieties and growing some sensitive heirlooms in self-watering containers should help.

Frozen: More Spinach, Swiss Chard and Kale. I only grew enough of these greens for fresh eating. I would like to have more to blanch and freeze for easy addition to soups and stews.

I want to make more of an effort to plan and grow some fall crops. Usually I am so busy with tending the garden and preserving the tomato glut that I often make much effort to plant for fall crops. I will try to extend my seed-starting schedule beyond spring and summer crops. At least I will try to remember to toss some carrot seeds when a space in the garden opens up. Carrots grow well for me as a fall crop.

I still need to fine-tune the garden plan and work on the seed-starting schedule. Last year's schedule worked really well. So I will only be adding the new crops and adjusting the dates a little. I can't wait to start growing again.

We are expecting a Nor'easter this weekend that could dump 2-feet of snow. Garden dreams will need to wait as we prepare for the storm and possible power outages that it may cause.

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