Thursday, April 4, 2013

Planning for a Garden

One of the best parts about having a farm is almost here! Growing Season! Being the Virgo that I am (as my bosses would say) means that I'm almost as excited about the PLANNING of the garden as I am about the actual production of our own food.

We've narrowed down the sites where we want to plant, have begun prepping the areas (aka- weed whack the heck out of it), and starting choosing what we want to grow. My mother in law gave me very sound advice- focus on a couple of things and learn to grow them well before expanding and trying new things. She obviously knows how enthusiastic I can get about things, and while her attempts to reign me in were valiant, she failed. Gwen, I give you permission to say "I told you so" later this autumn.

Plethora is a kind word to use when describing the number of seed packets I have acquired so far this spring. To be exact, I now have 44 bags of seeds (only 4 of which were given to me by someone local), totaling $125. I consider it an investment in my future. I just couldn't help myself. I started by purchasing seeds from some small companies close to our region in hopes that they would do well here. I couldn't find a local seed producer (I have found one since then, but even I have my seed purchasing limits) so I chose a few online. I got the majority of the seeds from Kenyon Organics in Utah, a few from Box Garden Organics in Idaho, and some lavender from Paula Jeans Garden down in Missoula, MT. After that I rounded out our collection with some seeds from Irish Eyes Garden Seeds from Washington that I picked up at the local hardware store. I tried to focus on organic and heirloom breeds, but it got to the point where every time we went to a feed store or hardware store I got a case of the "Ooooohhhh, that looks good!" and I just couldn't resist.

The Seed Collection

In the end (I hope it's the end) we have 3 different kinds of sunflowers, regional and bee attracting wildflowers, some herbs, paste and eating tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, carrots, winter squash, cucumbers, beans, and a few other varieties. Some of them, like the hot peppers, are dependent on our ability to set up the greenhouse. At the moment I'm not sure that's going to happen this year because we have so many other projects going on, but we're going to try. We may try to start some of the seeds early in the shop with a grow light we got from a friend, but really I'll just be happy if we can get the ground tilled and ready by the last frost in early June.

To prepare myself between now and then for this adventure I have torn apart every gardening magazine I own (mostly Mother Earth News) and organized the articles into categories for fruits, vegetables, other food (like grains), soil health, pest control, seasonal gardening tips, and general gardening tips, to make them easier to navigate. This way I can also add in my own notes about each thing from the books I plan to read about gardening. First up will be Organic Gardening in Cold Climates and The Montana Gardener's Companion. I also plan to start reading Zone 4, a magazine just for Rocky Mountain gardeners.

The Garden Site, Pre-Weed Whack

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