Just when I’m about to cave in under the gloomy gray skies, the leafless brown dryness of the landscape and the cold air, a small promise of spring opens its sleepy eyes. It’s that time of year – time to start planning for the vege patch!
Last year my husband and I spent several weekends in back breaking work building three raised garden beds. He hammered and sawed while I hauled load after load of garden soil from the local supplier. (Sidenote from the Voice of Experience: when approaching a downhill 4-way stop with a new pickup fully loaded with soil, apply pressure to the brake pedal well in advance of the normal time. A fully loaded brand new pickup will roll well into the intersection before coming to a complete stop if extra time is not allowed for the function. You may not be as fortunate as I was in this situation in that there were no other cars around!) Okay, back to the subject. 🙂 After building the beds, I spent several more hours sifting the compost pile I had been lovingly adding to all winter. It was actually very therapeutic and I’m looking forward to it this year. Mix it all together and viola! Lots of lettuce – lots and lots and lots of lettuce, way too much swiss chard, but then not enough okra or purple hull peas.
I will take the lessons learned from last year and redirect my efforts for another season. I will plant not near as much lettuce; swiss chard is completely out; add some spinach; move the onions to a different bed; try cilantro this year; only 3 tomato plants instead of 6; try growing the squash on supports where it will hopefully climb instead of taking over every inch of space in its path; an entire 8′ foot bed for okra and a split bed of cowpeas and black beans; peppers in two whiskey barrel planters; no sweet potatoes this year.
So, I have just ordered my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Missouri. As much as I believe in buying from local sources, there is only one heirloom seed source here I have found and the selection is very small. You’d think in a city this size…..how many times have I said that about a whole host of things? I will try them for my black bean seeds. I started to order them online but the shipping was literally 3 times as much as the seed itself and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. So, my black bean seeds may not be organic – oh, well.
I ordered a garden planner from the Food Co-op this month. Its supposed to have a lot of good information and space to record information year to year. I really need to start doing this if I am going to be successful in this venture.
This is also the time of year that the old yearning returns – the yearning for a more spacious living environment (in the outdoor sense). The yearning to be out in nature. I guess it comes from being cooped up for going on 3 months now. I want a buffer of some land between me and the neighbors, I want to raise some chickens (or do I? they’re awfully messy), I want to work only part-time and actually have the time to decide about raising chickens – in other words, I want a simpler life. I want to get away from the city and the traffic and the noise. So, I guess that’s what planning my garden represents to me. The chance to get outdoors more, even if it is only the backyard.
Which brings to mind another project: this year we MUST MUST MUST build a cover over the patio. Our backyard is on the west side of the house. We cut down two hugely overgrown intrusive trees last year to make way for the garden, but the price we paid was extreme heat beating down on our patio and into our kitchen. My husband has a plan for the covering, but it is just a matter of getting up the energy to do it. Hopefully, the first warm weekend come April will be the inspiration we need!
In the meantime, I’ll keep dreaming of getting my hands into that compost pile and the fresh food to come!
Keep it simple.