By Shannon McCabe, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed
Photographs courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seed
As we are settled down for a peaceful and reflective winter, now is the time to set our intentions for our 2019 gardens. Whether you are looking to create a lush permaculture oasis, a bountiful and tidy square-foot garden or an old-fashioned victory garden, there is something for everyone, and the time to plan is now!
Expert Tips for Getting the Garden Started
As the season of garden dreaming begins, the Baker Creek team is gearing up for a busy season of shipping seeds. Our expert staff of gardeners would like to share a few pre-season tips to help you ensure a successful and productive gardening year.
Make a Site Assessment
What does your garden look like? Do you garden in raised beds, in sprawling fields, or on a balcony? The layout of your garden can determine which varieties will perform the best. For example, a container garden on your stoop calls for dwarf varieties. A square-foot garden will often perform best with tidy, compact varieties as well as plants that can be trained to grow in a vertical manner.
Often, drawing a simple map or even a list will help to determine your needs and make for a more successful garden plan. This can also help you to determine how much seed to buy.
When choosing your varieties, keep in mind your growing zone, microclimate and conditions. We offer many varieties that are well suited to a wide growing range. However, you may also find that some regionally adapted heirlooms are particularly well suited to your climate.
Don't forget to use the search bar on the rareseeds.com website, typing in keywords such as "dwarf," "vining," "cold hardy" or "heat tolerant." This can help to narrow your choices and find the perfect variety.
Start Succession Planting
Often we are struck with Spring fever and tempted to plant the entire garden plot in one afternoon. While we don't want to stifle this kind of garden excitement, it is important to keep in mind the importance of succession planting. The practice of making small plantings several times throughout the gardening season provides a more consistent supply of fresh produce throughout the season.
When planning for successions, first consider your personal preferences. If you like to eat salads every day, you may want to consider sowing small, frequent successions of salad fixings like lettuce and radish to supplement longer-season-producing crops like peppers and tomatoes, which do not require succession planting.
Do you plan to process, can or jam your harvest? This will also influence the number of successions that you plant.
You can also use succession planting to better tap into seasonal weather patterns. For those who like a consistent supply of spinach, but have had issues with mid-summer bolting, consider starting with a cold-tolerant spinach and transition to a more heat-tolerant green like callaloo amaranth for the summer. This clever timing technique will greatly reduce waste and make for better-tasting harvests.
The use of a garden planner or a calendar will help to keep your garden dreams on track. These tools will also help to keep your planting successions organized, so you don't miss a sowing!
A garden planner like the Clyde's Garden Planner offered on the rareseeds.com website will do the timing and planning for you. This handy tool will guide you on when to sow your crops based on your frost dates. The Clyde's Garden Planner is small and weatherproof, so you can take it out into the garden with you!
Keeping a notebook or calendar to track weather patterns and planting dates is tremendously helpful in planning and planting in the future. You will always be able to refer back to your previous years' notes to help plan your garden.
No matter your garden design, growing a garden full of fresh produce is sure to set you up for a healthy and successful year. Health is wealth and growing your own nutritious produce is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself. The very act of tending a garden is exceptionally healthful, promoting both physical and emotional well being. The garden can provide solitude and reflective tranquility. It is a place to clear one's head and accomplish goals. It can also be a classroom, a place where we nurture, and where we learn patience and observation. Families bond in the garden. Children learn and play in the garden, and the fruit of this labor serves as the foundation of a healthy diet.
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