Sunday, March 21, 2010
Garden on the Deck: Garden Planning
Last year's garden just happened. My friends carried me through it with supplies, starters, and advice (from pruning to saving seeds). When I bought seeds, I couldn't even make sense of the calendar dates on the package: start indoors 5 weeks before planting outdoors, outdoors 2 weeks after the last frost date, 7 days to germinate, and 70-80 days to fruit. When do I put the seeds in the soil? So, I planted with no rhyme or reason and had a blast. The garden thrived (crazy!), but I planted things way too early or too late, and missed out on replanting cycles throughout the summer. Now I see that so much more is possible with a little attention to detail. I lucked out last year with my amazing 'gardening guides.' This year I've been edu-macatin' myself with books (thank you E), my organic gardening mag (thank you Anne), with new seeds & advice (thank you Mike), and in gardening workshops (thank you Rich), sponsored by the South Side Community Land Trust.
when things go in the ground is rather important in gardening. Which means that making a calendar of sorts is the best place to start: (1) Start with a list of what you want to plant, (2) Find the last frost date for your region - Providence is May 10-ish, (3) Back track for indoor seed planting dates (I used multiple websites & seed pack week estimates for this), then and (4) Count forward from the indoor dates for your outdoor planting date (transplant date), for each veggie since veggies take longer/shorter times to be ready for the great outdoors.
After sitting in two workshops on seed starting & garden planning this past Saturday, I'm teeming with information. One teacher advised us to think in terms of 3 types of plants: early spring plants (leafy hearty greens), warm weather plants that go in after the danger of frost (Italian cooking: basil, tomatoes, eggplant, oregano), and fall weather plants. I learned about companion crops (friends in the garden) and that soil rotation can even help container gardens. The calendar ends up being a giant puzzle in terms of which plants will go in which containers, given what I grew last year. And while none of this extra work is necessary for a garden to do well and to be enjoyable, I am loving the process. Cannot. Get. Enough.