The relatively mild temps of the last few days combined with all those slick and glossy seed catalogs are fannin’ the flames of Cabin Fever. I’m sure I’m not alone in this and to commiserate with like-minded companions is to alleviate some of the itch of premature seed starting and garden turning. To aid in this I emphasize that now is not the time for planting or starting sprouts indoors, we’ve too many snow drifts and shoveling ahead for that: it’s the time for planning and ordering your seeds if you don’t have any left from last year. By the way, if you’re like me, don’t let those attractive and tempting seed catalogs goad you into buying enough seed to cover the food needs of the entire neighborhood for the next three years. Below you will find useful information to aid in your planning but it will also help to satiate those impulses to get out into the soil. Indeed, it’s just what the doctor ordered to help with Cabin Fever.
Essentially, garden planning has three aspects: 1) if a new plot, determine the size garden you want and need; 2) determine what vegetables your family truly enjoys and not just what you would want them to eat. There is no sense in planting Brussels sprouts if no one will eat them, and; 3) take due consideration of not only your local climate but also the lay of your garden plot. If your garden lies on the north facing slope of your property, as mine does, (this can be equivalent to being 100 miles north of your actual climatic zone), and so you must realize that some veggies that require long and warm growing seasons are simply beyond your scope.
On those still to come, long, cold, and snowy winter nights take a pencil to graph paper and draw up a visual representation of your garden. Careful, this can easily turn into a pipe-dream so take the above three aspects into consideration and make a realistic representation of your unique situation. One final consideration in this drawing always plan the tallest projected crop at the northern most edge of the garden. After all, you don’t want the 8 foot dense corn row to shade out the Roma paste tomatoes, which requires both direct sun and warmth to produce to their full potential.
In the next issue of CRS, I will provide some handy-dandy tables detailing how much room different veggie varieties need, as well as, which plants should be started indoor and when; and what should be planted directly in the garden plot and when. Meantime, curl up with those seed catalogs in front of the fireside, pour yourself a glass of elderberry wine, to help prevent colds and flu, and dream of late July harvesting in the garden …but temper it with practical understanding of your particular circumstances.
Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.