Sunday, March 21, 2010

Garden on the Deck: Garden Planning

Re-usable markers 3/21/10.

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.
1st Garden Plan (choosing veggies & finding dates), 3/14/10.

Apparently 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.
Garden Plan 2nd try, 3/20/10.

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.