Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Young Gardener

Seed catalogs have been arriving in droves since before Christmas...and I am elated. I'm not big on cold weather, Georgia winters are about all I can stand. . I mean, I know God created winter too, and I try to see the positive in the season. I love the cozy fires, the hot drinks, the big fluffy sweaters, the occasional snow…but they’re just the good side I try to focus on while I’m freezing my rear end off. I love the fall harvest, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they get me through the first couple cold months because of all the fun hustle and bustle. But then January rolls around, and for years I’ve just muddled through those chilly quiet months looking forward to April. Well, now that I’m vegetable gardening, I have found my ray of hope…seed catalogs and garden planning!

I learned a lot last year, if nothing else, how little I really know. It seems the more I read and learn, the more I realize I have to learn! I love the quote from Thomas Jefferson, “Though an old man, I am but a young gardener.” Such a true statement. There are so many things to learn about all the different types of plants and the relationships between them. I devoured many gardening books and perused countless websites last year, hoping to narrow my margin of error. I’m sure it helped, but experience is a wonderful teacher.

This year I want to plant more of some things, and less of others. (How many cucumbers and okra can one family eat?!) I definitely want more squash and tomatoes. I tried to simplify my crop rotation by having one bed for everything with the intention of just shifting one over every year. But I feel a little more comfortable this year trying to plan successions for all year and using each bed more than once, thereby achieving more yield. I’m putting the grain on hold for now. I really want to try it, but until I have a mill, I don’t see the point. We also barely had enough green beans to eat, let alone put up or dry. I also see how much work drying would have been! Besides, dried beans are that expensive J

I’m also doing some seedlings early indoors this year too. I didn’t have time last year, so I just tried everything from seed outdoors. Generally, the advice I found in The Vegetable Gardener's Bible to be true. (I love this book!) If he recommended starting from seed outdoors, mine did wonderfully. Those he suggested starting indoors and transplanting didn’t do as well. Celery, which he said could be very difficult to grow, didn’t come at all! I planted over 200 seeds…so I guess that’s accurate.

The seed catalogs have so many wonderful varieties, it’s incredibly difficult to narrow down. I thought I was conservative last year, but I believe I still had too many varieties. I didn’t consider the chances of cross-pollination, and I ended up with over half of my ridiculously abundant cucumber crop to be inedible. The peppers were slow to come up, so the harvest was low, plus I don’t know what crossed. The English peas would be a lot of work for little reward. I probably won’t do them again this year.

As I make my selections and arrangements, I’ll be sure to share my plans. Now to drool over my catalogs…

Oh, want some in your mailbox? Check out these sites and request a catalog!

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