It’s that time of year again where the seed catalogs and brochures are being delivered and the days are starting to get longer.
Planning the year is a four phase process for me; Phase 1 is assessing the space available in the garden, Phase 2 is assessing what I/family like to eat and Phase 3 is reviewing the seeds I have and ordering any I need and Phase 4 is deciding where to grow stuff.
Phase 1: Assessing Space
Luckily, I have several clean slates to start with this year. The garden created by the previous owners has been mulched over winter and I have mushroom compost, seaweed and “normal” compost from kitchen scraps ready to go. The box planters with rather forlorn raspberry plants are going to be moved to the Beer Garden and the random badly positioned peach tree is moving 10 feet towards the front of the property. These moves are going to create another 12 ft by 10 ft extension to the existing garden.
Current creeping vines are being cut back and dug up to make way for vertical growing spaces for summer squashes and beans, maybe even a blackberry. I came across some wonderful vertical gardening methods via Pintrest.
The Beer Garden will compromise of raised planters for hops bines and an area for some grain to be sown.
A winter vegetable garden is planned for the front to the side of the garage to grow the hardy winter vegetables however, it is on the north side of the house so the ground is colder for longer. It may be more suited for the Cider Orchard. As I mentioned in a previous post, the current orchard is being extended and during the holidays, I managed to come across a great article in Mother Earth News about the best cider apple varieties. The article also contain links to some suppliers of the apple trees so I have been doing a lot of research to see which trees of those varieties will work best with what I already have (in terms of pollination groups, rootstock, size and spread of tree etc). You can read the article here. I’m also looking for hazelnuts and soft fruit bushes to create a permaculture orchard that will be a haven for beneficial insects.
Perennial plants such as artichokes, soft fruits and nuts are going in along the south side of the house whilst I take a year to decide on what to do with the main back garden. Pintrest came up again with some lovely landscaping ideas, I particularly like the fairy-tale feel of this garden however, with dogs I’m not sure I want to plant up all of the lawn space; Sparky loves to play ball or Frisbee whilst Teddy runs around the garden.
One of my friends made me a herb planter for Christmas that I’m excited to plant up by the back door on the patio filled with culinary herbs like basil and parsley. The front garden is going to become a home for perennial herbs such as sage, thyme, chamomile, rosemary, myrtle and bay once I pull out the large shrubs which are blocking the light and air flow to the foundations.
Phase 2: Assessing Food Habits
At the beginning of the year I talked about starting the Paleo Diet since I need to lose 100 lbs. So far I have managed to lose 6 lbs which is a great start to the year! Why are you talking about your diet in a post about seed organization and starting the plot? My diet choices impact the plants I am growing this year; there will be lots of leafy greens high in calcium such as kale, collards and broccoli to make up the difference lost from no dairy. Lots of tomatoes for salads, soups and stews, squashes and sweet potatoes for complex starches. My mission is to love off the land and one of the best produce to store for use later in the year is beans. I love beans; on toast, in soups or stews, fresh out of the pod…I could go on really, however, they are technically not allowed on the diet but, I’m going to give myself some slack and still have beans. After all, I have the seeds to use.
Last year, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about a study conducted on the diet and lifestyle of centennials. They didn’t eat a lot of meat but ate more fish and plant based protein (beans) you can read an article about it in The BeachBody Blog or The Salt if you want to know more about the lifestyle and food choices.
If you’re interested in the Paleo Diet you can check out these sites below:
About the diet: The Paleo Diet
My go-to for recipes and advice (I love the beet and tomato soup): PaleoLeap
A great beginners guide, with Lego: Nerd Fitness
Phase 3: Assessing Current Seed Stock
I fished out my canvas bag of seeds from the freezer to take stock of what I have so I don’t go overboard on purchasing seeds and plants this year.
So with the 2016 Biodynamic Calendar and Farmers Almanac on order along with seed starter trays and new row covers; I’m organizing my seeds into fruit, leaf, root and flower categories and saving the toilet roll tubes, salad containers and anything else I can use to start my tomato and chili plants off in now.
Here are my seeds organized into their biodynamic category.
After taking stock of what I currently have, I know now I need to purchase some of the perennial herbs I want from a local nursery, sweet potato slips, Jerusalem artichokes (sun chokes), beets, cape gooseberry, currants, raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries and a couple of large variety tomatoes.
Phase 4: Where to Plant
I find this to be the trickiest part mostly because I need to complete some other pending tasks before I can really plan where my plants are going. For example, the peach tree and raised beds need moving to create the extra space and the climbing frame needs taking down to make room for the Beer Garden.
I know of friends who use color coded cells on spreadsheets to decide where to plant based on their crop rotation plan (growing the same plants in the same ground builds up pests and diseases quickly). There are several online tools for planning but I’m a bit old school, I like to sketch it out where the plants will grow and how much space they need, potential shade casting from tall plants etc.
If you want a biodynamic calendar, farmers almanac, row covers or seed starter kits, you can get them in the Amazon links below.