Friday, December 17, 2010

Planning your Garden...part 1

Ok I know its December.  You're probably thinking about shovelling snow and getting ready for the holidays....and NOT thinking about gardening...

Truth be told, I never stop thinking about gardening...but in reality gardening doesn't stop just because you aren't weeding or harvesting right at the moment.  You have to put a bit of thought into planning your garden and this is what today's post is all about.

Part one of this series is going to talk about looking at what you'll be planting come springtime.

Take Stock of Your Eats

The first way to decide what you want to grow in your garden is to take a look at what you like to eat!
Sounds easy...doesn't it?

For people who love vegetables or for those who subscribe to a vegan or vegetarian diet...its simple, but for those who aren't as familiar with gardening or vegetables...this very simple act may take more thought...and time!

I say start now by looking at the types of recipes you make for your family and looking at your grocery bills.  You'll start to notice vegetables you purchase all the time, and never thought about growing.  Perhaps this year will be the year you try it!

I'll give you a short list of the kinds of vegetables we eat on a weekly basis:

  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Squash
  • cucumbers
  • sweet peppers
  • broccoli
  • onions
  • asparagus
  • tomatoes
  • herbs
  • lettuce greens
  • spinach
  • peas
  • beans
  • zucchini
Let's look closer at this list...

Asparagus can be grown but requires at least 3 years of growing before you can the long run its far more cost effective to grow your own.  Since you won't be able to rotate a crop like asparagus, you'll need to select an area that will provide great conditions year after year for your plants.  (but its worth it!)

Tomatoes grow like crazy if you give them proper you'll want to give them lots of space in the garden!

Lettuce greens can not be stored in any conventional way (that I'm aware of), so you'll want to consider staggering your plants to maximize your growing season.  If you decide to build a cold frame you could very well have fresh picked greens from April to late November!  That's a huge savings at the grocery store and your salad will have a ridiculously low carbon food print.

Broccoli and Sweet Peppers take some time to get if you're starting from'll want to set aside a warm area in February and start your seeds in advance of planting them in the ground.  Peppers do not like cold soil, and they shouldn't be planted in the soil before the middle of you can start now by setting aside some pots and potting soil in the area you want to reserve for pre-season growing.  (Wait until February...I'll be featuring a post all about it!)

Peas and Beans can be stored throughout the you'll want to stock up on Ziploc bags when the back to school sales are on!  Although this method is quite labour can rest easy knowing that almost NO fossil fuels were used in getting these green delights to your table.  Yes, the frozen varieties in the freezer department are pretty cheap...but they can come from far away...meaning the carbon footprint on your peas could be as big as your CAR!  

Every year our family gets adventurous and tries out at least 1 hybrid and 1 new vegetable.  Last year we tried out purple tomatoes and eggplants.  I love experimenting this way, since all you really lose is the cost of the seeds or plant.  If you decide you don't like that never have to grow it again...but you just may LOVE it!   

Another method of selecting your veggies would be to take a look in your favorite cookbook.  Copy or dog-ear the pages of recipes you'd like to try and see if there are any veggies you can grow in your garden.  I did the reverse this past year....we grew eggplants and aside from grilling them, I had no idea what to DO with them!  I poured over cookbooks and web sites...only to find that I was without some ingredients and often the eggplant wasn't so fresh by the time I went to make the dish.  This year I will have a plan!  I have already set aside tomato, zucchini and eggplant when the glorious time comes...I'll be ready willing and able to make these delicious dishes! 

Another reason for planning ahead, is if you order your seeds from a catalogue.  You'll want to make sure you know what you want, prior to that you receive the seeds in time!  (see what I said about sweet peppers above)

Check back for further posts about planning...

And a contest coming this January!!! 

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