Garden season is nearly upon us. Have you started plans? Plants?
Last year, I wrote a tutorial about creating newspaper pots to start seedlings. This year, I spotted a list of other DIY seed-starting pot tutorials on Green Daily, too.
We haven’t started much around our house other than plans. We did so well with our CSA membership that we anticipate that will provide most of our vegetables this year. I don’t think you can beat organic, local, affordable, and easy to pick up.
The fabulous news about this development? It frees us up to grow what we WANT to grow. Instead of trying to grow all my tomatoes, all the squash we can eat, and greens galore, we are going to focus on things that are fun to do. Last year, we wound up being busy, the weather was uncooperative, the dog ate all the green beans, and Brussels sprouts that grew all the way to just about full size wound up being so intensely infested with aphids at the last minute that they were disgusting. As a matter of fact, their hideous wilted yellow stalks are still standing at the edge of the garden now, as if to bear testament to our Brussels-sprouts-growing hubris.
What to do this year?
I am admittedly sad about my apparently inability to grow Brussels sprouts. But they take up a fair amount of room, and I’ve tried to grow them at least six times without ever eating a sprout, so they aren’t going to go on my wish list this year.
We have a few plants on our wish list, things that are not likely to show up in our CSA box:
- In the spring, a few radishes and maybe small carrots, and sugar snap peas.
- Okra – delicious fried or in some Indian dishes. I have several techniques for growing this in our Colorado climate, and I’m proud to say my okra usually turns out great. (I realize that this pronouncement dooms the crop this year.)
- Tomatillo – Mr. Cheap loves the sour salsa it makes.
- Lettuce – for early spring/summer salads before CSA deliveries get going in June. We are hoping to make a cold frame, too, to keep it going into the winter.
- Leeks – If we have more space available, we might try some leeks, which take about a year to mature (or did the last time we grew them, a decade ago).
- Tomatoes – A perfect heirloom tomato, a cherry for snacking, and some paste tomatoes to put away for the winter. We just need to figure out how to make all the paste tomatoes *ripen.*
- Cucumbers. I’m going to return to my old cucumber patch and put up the tilted fence lattice that worked so beautifully in 2007, growing so many cucumbers that I pickled my little heart out and finally sold the leftovers at a yard sale (they were the best sellers at 70 cents each). Mr. Cheap loves his dills, Little Cheap is starting to like them too, and I like my bread-and-butter pickles, plus my sister might need a refill on curry pickles.
- Haricots verts – These slim green beans were so good last year, I’m going to try again in a dog-safe area.
- Strawberries. I hope these will expand — we might even add some more. And we need, again, to add fencing to keep the dogs from eating the berries.
I might consider making a better/larger mint patch. We have a few plants (planted in pots in the ground — mint is terribly invasive!). But my daughter drinks a LOT of mint tea, and it would be great to grow more for our use. I also would love to grow chamomile, but I have never successfully germinated it. Maybe this is the year to buy a plant.
And in our efforts to make life a bit more sustainable, we keep coming across new ways to help out. This post on growing loofahs (or luffahs) is intriguing — I’m not sure if our hot season here is long enough, but it bears some investigating.
What NOT to do?
This year, I vow NOT to grow certain things:
- Brussels sprouts. Obviously.
- Broccoli and cauliflower. They take up too much room, and they come in our CSA box.
- Beets. Maybe. Although I might grow some to pull as babies and pickle. I do love beets, but we get many huge ones from the CSA.
- Kale. Collards. Mr. Cheap tends to go crazy with these, and they last in the garden forever.
- Squash. We might grow one plant and feel free to eat the flowers. The CSA also delivers a lot of squash — I still have several in my laundry room.
What else is on our agenda?
The big plan is that we are scheming to make over our back yard this year. Mr. Cheap needs a good spot for his forge for his blacksmithing hobby. And we need a way to keep two dogs out of the garden.
We have a long driveway that runs the length of our property. It was probably installed with the house in 1950, and the concrete is about 2″ deep with no reinforcing rebar. The bad news is that the concrete is badly chipped, cracked and spalled. The good news is it will be relatively easy to remove. We are planning to rip out some driveway to make room for the apple trees we planted last year — they currently live in holes quickly gouged out of the cement when we found the trees on sale for $10 each.
Then we are hoping to install a patio where the driveway was, and build a nicer, fenced-in garden with raised beds. We have a source for endless horse manure, which we hope will combat the dense clay of our neighborhood, which in this case will have been compacted by the driveway. Mr. Cheap wants to make over our back shed into a shop (the walls currently aren’t really attached to the ground, and they are made of plywood that is weathering badly) and build a pergola over the pad where our hot tub used to be for his forge area.
We hope these improvements will make the yard more functional for us, while maintaining or increasing our home value. Sound like a big plan? It is. For that reason, this will be the perfect year for us to think small in the garden.
If you want to think REALLY small — or you are just craving a way to grow something fresh and green NOW — check out this tutorial on a “garden in a bowl” — growing sprouts with no fuss or muss.
What’s planned for your garden this year?