When I stopped at the post office to pick up my mail, Dan the postmaster had a stack that was quick a bit thicker than the usual haul of offers, magazines, bills, and newsletters. The 2011 seed catalogs are here.
If hope springs etermal, then winter’s seed catalog deliveries nurture that hope for many. I think the best quote I read about seed catalogs this year came from Ken Greene’s blog at Hudson Valley Seed Library:
Every garden is a story with its own tragedy, slapstick, drama, sex, death, and delicious redemption.
The first “garden” here grew while I was a weekend builder. I planted some watermellon and cantelope and just ignored them, let the weeds and grasses mix with the vines and had an awesome harvest. Weekend trips to build in late summer and fall resulted in a bounty to be shared with friends and enjoyed during the week. That garden plot later became the pheasant fly pen.
In a later year, in the fall, my neighbor Bob dropped a half a truck load of cow maneur on a new garden space and then spread it with the tractor in the spring. Adding to that, fresh compost comes from the duck, turkey and chicken pens along with household scraps.
I originaly had 8 – 8 by 16 ground level beds. I soon learned I had more wasted space than productive space. The garden was too little to be “big” and too big to be “little”. 1000 square feet for garden space was overkill for my chore list and my pantry.
Beginnning last year, I use some raised beds and this year, my plans are to make more raised bed space.
I have two, 3 x 3 raised beds, one with a cattle panel arch trellis. I plan on adding a 2 x 8 raised bed for onions and garlic, and a few 2 x 4 beds. On the deck, and coser to the kitchen, I’m building a raised bed and bench combination that will be home to the lettuces in spring, a few herbs, and a second fall lettuce crop.
There are still two ground level 8 x 12 beds: one for potatoes and the other for mellons. I’ll rotate them them year.
True confession, I’m not a big vegetable fan, so what I eat from the garden is limited. But, that said, onions, garlic, herbs, lettuces, potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, cantelope, blueberries are all great. I transplanted some meager looking bluebery bushes this fall and am ordering some more mature bushes this spring from Waters Blueberry Farm in Missouri.
I’d like to grow more peas and beans, both to can, to enjoy garden fresh. I have neighbors who grow corn and other veggies, and I like supporting my neighbors, too. So rather than grow corn and attract more raccoons, I’ll buy local.
Out of the garden space, I’ll also plant a garden for the chickens and turkeys – some pasture plants, some buckwheat, flax and some other grains, timed to mature at different stages while they are at their foraging best.
The tiny fruit trees I planted 2 years ago are maturing and last years grapes will need pruning this year for the first time.
If this is your first garden, you may find your tastes, and the offerings of the catalogs, leave you more bewildered than motivated. If so, look at the sugesstions of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, with their ideas for a beginner’s garden:
Make your garden 11 rows of 10 feet each of the following veggies:
- Tomatoes — 5 plants staked
- Zucchini squash — 4 plants
- Peppers — 6 plants
- Bush beans
- Lettuce, leaf and/or Bibb
- Marigolds to discourage rabbits!
Leave 2 feet between bush beans, 1/2 foot between bush beans and lettuce, and 1 foot between all of the rest.
So time to pour another cup of coffee, grab a catalog and a notebook, and start thinking of spring.