Although gardening in the “frozen tundra” appears to be impossible, especially since there are no signs of end at this current time.
Extending our growing season this year by transplanting some garden produce plants into buckets, allowed us to pick fresh peppers and tomatoes up through Christmas. It was such a nice treat to add to our sprouts, greens and herbs. Although our set up is a bit on the frugal side, a nice crop of carrots and beets do well through the winter in the basement. I by no means am trying to offend AND I absolutely love the fresh produce, herbs and dishes! However, it is just not the same as digging into the fresh dirt!
Sweet sprouts and started transplants are just peeking through the soft soil mixture. It reminds me of the soon to come planting days. Each year we plan and rummage through the seed catalogs, just like some children do for Christmas toys! New varieties, favorite flavors, sweet smells and tastes of fresh produce or pie trickle into our thoughts. Hmm…
Even though the pantry is still stocked and supplied from last years beautiful blessings, the excitement of a new season finds a way to creep in. Gathering supplies and seeds are just a few steps for a successful garden. Here are 5 things you can do during winter to help plan for a successful garden:
Prepare your garden equipment. No matter what time your area or zone begins to plant, the off season is a great time to clean up or restock your tools. Even better, many times off season products are on clearance at local stores. Do you need more garden hand tools? Perhaps gloves? Some fertilizer or better yet potting mix. When on clearance one can easily save $5-$8 a bag, depending on brand and location AND use a coupon on top of that. Refill your tools and supplies. A friend has a shop and sharpens our shovels for us. It makes a difference folks! Perhaps a tune up if you have a tiller? Cleaning it out if rust is an issue in your area, etc.
Restock. #1 was more for equipment or tools. This is for seeds, soil, transplant or pots. Purchase what you need or restock in the off season and save $!
Organize your seeds. What are you definitely planting? Do you always plant the same thing and same amount. If you are like us, we have a stack of what we consider “needs to go into the garden” and a stack of seeds I make room for. LOL. Whichever way you garden, organize what you are planning to plant. This will assist you to be able to plan, which is #4. With this one, I also encourage you to separate what needs to be started indoors, or will boost your crop if started inside. This provides a huge advantage for a great season and crop!
Plan & Layout your garden. Rotating crops can make things difficult for some people, depending on their type of garden and layout. If space is not an issue, it may not make much of a difference to you, as long as everything gets light. However, if you are trying to plant as much as possible, your garden layout can make a huge difference. Vertical gardening frees so much of your gardening space up and is a huge blessing to work with. So with your seeds organized, come up with a plan for what you have to work with. Perhaps you will decide you want to plant more. Due to your planning, you have time!
Get Encouraged & Inspired. Gardening can be so diverse. Having the privileged to grow up gardening, I was fortunate to see so many types of gardens and methods. I adopted my favorites and oddly, when I married, my husband had his methods. Over time, methods seem to really work better for certain crops that I was not accustomed to growing a certain way, and likewise with my husband. Every year, we love to see peoples gardens. It is inspiring and encouraging! Our garden is a huge blessing and so beautifully productive, but there’s just that one thing in someone’s garden that we “might try” or that give’s us a new idea with something we are already doing. It’s wonderful! It keeps things lively, new & interesting!
BONUS: Compost. If you are able to compost your garden area, do so, it will not hurt! If it is covered in snow, do you have compost methods ready. We use a mixture of bunny manures and one of our kiddos has taken a fancy to worm farming. The compost is wonderful and greatly impacts the garden! IF you do not have anything available, now is the time to plan. Can you call a local farmer and ask him to call you when he/she has thawed manure. If your area is saturated with farmers, it will probably be free if you haul it. Locals here are free OR up to $25 dollars for as much as you can load. Simply drive up, and they use the bucket on the tractor to fill your truck and/or trailer. ***Make sure you check what kinds of manure. Some manures are too HOT for a garden. There are methods to breaking it down, but it’s best to get ready manure that can go on as you till up your garden. Just ask your local farmer or coop group.
Are you ready for spring? It is such a joy when the seed catalogs begin to surprise us with their arrival. At last, there is hope for summer! Each year life seems to get busier and busier.
I do notice however, no matter how often we say, “Maybe we shouldn’t plant as big of a garden,” it seems to somehow get bigger. How is that? LOL!
We love the fresh garden produce, and even though it involves extra work in our busy schedule, we all LOVE it! It is such a blessing and so exciting to see the ground come to life again after a fierce winter. Well, enough excitement to keep us growing more and more.
We are now up to several miscellaneous growing patches around the yard and three extra large garden plots. Praise the Lord! For this, we are fortunate enough to put up a lot for winter and have plenty to share. With a bit of wiggle room to expand and explore together as a family a particular “project produce” for that year. So far we ave ventured into varieties of tomatoes, corns, beans, peppers, onions, root vegetables, and last year was loads of squashes. Okay, so a bit nerdy at heart, but still, it is SO MUCH FUN! We try a few new varieties, some new techniques or “tricks’ that may help produce a higher yield, and etc. We have learned so much along the way, maybe even a few cheats that allow about the same yield, maybe a “tad less” BUT with a lot less work! 😉
As the seed catalogs arrive, my young boy is the first to scour. Shortly he asked about specific seed, so he could have an entire garden plot. Specifically, so he can plant one entire field by hand with sweet corn. It is so sweet to see his excitement!
I absolutely LOVE that our children delight in gardening and help each year willingly. It is even more exciting to see them branch out AND to additionally want to embrace gardening more “independently”. (Beyond their tire or garden box beds.) By planting their own garden plot, they learn so much and love to “study” that particular plant. We all learn details!
Making a relate-able turn here, the post is to explain a new experiment we are wanting to try outside the gardens to expand and create more space for other vegetables. Our growing family puts up a lot of potatoes, and honestly it is a “no fail” great crop around us. Soil wise and weather, if it’s a poor year for gardening, the potatoes seem to always make the difference with their high yield as to not be a “bad season”. Also, because of this, it’s been good enough reason not to change our method. I mean why fix what isn’t broken?
This method is not new, in fact it is very old. Several different people have put their spin on it and claimed a similar method with a different name. However, I have to give credit to my first findings on this method and that is Ruth Stout.
We have embraced container, bucket, Kratky method, lasagna gardening and a few other methods to save space in our main gardens. All have been done small scale as trials and were successful. All of this allows us to grow more for our family, have fun and experiment outside the box a bit.
So, we have decided we are going to do an extra large plot of potatoes using the Ruth Stout method. Since this is our new yearly garden project, we are also going to try an additional 6 potato varieties (we usually do 2-3 main growers) and try to supply several hundred pounds of potatoes in our winter root cellar. A little ambitious, but I believe very achievable.
My thoughts to you are? Do you always plant the same things, same seed, same variety, etc.? Also, do you also do it the same way? Or do you use a different method for the crop and it’s varieties?
Along this journey we have found some amazing, “non traditional AND traditional” farmers & gardeners. I LOVE their shared wisdom!!! In the meantime, happy gardening! Happy Homemaking!