Today we are experiencing a late winter snow storm and is a good time to do some more thinking and planning for the garden. Each year we try new things. If they work, we will continue to use them. This year the plan is to try two new vegetables and three different growing methods.
We have chosen five gardening experiments for the 2015 season.
Asparagus bed – We have put off this for about three years, so this year it is time. Roots are already ordered so no turning back. Two varieties we selected are, Jersey Giant and Purple Passion. The roots are sent to us in the spring for planting time in our growing zone.
Sweet Potatoes – We have chosen Covington, an early variety that will mature in short season areas. Unrooted vines are shipped in the late spring. With proper care we will be enjoying sweet potato fries this fall.
Straw Bale Garden – Plan to experiment with about four bales and try to grow a variety of vegetables. A wood crate structure will confine the sides of the four bales. The plan is to then use the Square Foot Garden Method to plant. More information on Straw Bale Gardens can be found here.
Vertical Potatoes – Have always been intrigued by this method to grow potatoes. If successful, we plan to build more towers and eliminate the rows of potatoes from the garden to free up space.
Sawdust bed – We were traveling in south-west Nova Scotia when first observed huge vegetables growing in sawdust. The key as we found out, was old sawdust. Old was very old, like 25 years or more! Well near the homestead are the remains of an old mill. There has been no production for over 40 years and there is also a huge deposit of old sawdust. Our plan is to check it out and seek permission from the land owner (if we can find them) and see if we can make our sawdust gardening experiment a reality. We will build a raised bed and again use the SFG method to grow a variety of vegetables and flowers. We are also going to use a mixture of sawdust and compost for our experiment.
You are invited to follow us as we update our experiments through the growing season. We also welcome any advice you have on any of our gardening experiments. Please use the comment section on Facebook or on WordPress.
In an earlier post, we shared our gardening goals (Garden Planning – Set Goals for Your Garden). People will choose to garden for whatever purpose meets their needs. People will garden in different ways. From patio containers to large agricultural production. Traditional rows to raised beds and square foot gardening. Some like us will experiment with many ways to meet our gardening needs.
There are many other reasons people choose to garden. Activity and fitness, stress relief, get outdoors, enjoy nature, are all reasons people garden. Whatever your reason or purpose is to garden, we hope you can find the magic! That childhood sense of wonder that exudes from your garden as the landscape evolves from barren earth to green foliage bearing colourful fruit. The miracle of tiny seeds to giant sunflowers, or the white blossom to the deep red strawberry warmed in the summer sun and exploding with sweetness. The wondrous creatures that visit our gardens or inhabit the subterranean world. With no slight of hand, the magic unfolds before our eyes every day we are in the garden.
Believe in the magic of your garden and you will find it. Bring your children or grandchildren to your garden and discover the magic with them. Perhaps it is this “magic” that brings gardeners to the patch of earth we so enjoy.
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ― Roald Dahl
Our planning and preparation continues. Seed inventories done, and browsing seed catalogs and seed websites continues. New asparagus roots ordered, vegetable seeds ordered, and some seeds have already arrived.
Both gardens now have four feet of the white stuff snuggling them. Hard to believe that spring is only nineteen days away. There are some positive signs that spring is near, the light of day has grown longer and the warmth of the sun continues to increase, spring training has started in baseball, and there are only two months left before the Stanley Cup Playoffs are over.
The other sign for gardeners is that itch to get scratching in the dirt. The desire to get started and smell the earthy aromas of soil and rotting compost. Here in New Brunswick we will have to wait another six to eight weeks. There are, however, some things you can do to help satisfy those urges.
March is the time to start seeds indoors. White, Red and green onions will be started this week. Several of our flowers will be started as well. Check the frost dates for your area and the planting instructions on the seed pack. Generally seeds are started indoors four to eight weeks before the last frost date. We use May 15th as a guide, so if the seeds need to be started six weeks prior to the last frost, we will start on or before April Fools’ Day!
Get a start on new projects you are planning for the gardens. Our new plans include:
2 trellises for the cucumbers
Stacking boxes for the vertical potatoes experiment
Crates for the straw bales experiment
New stakes and row markers
More tomato cages
New cold frame for large raised bed.
2 new raised bed boxes
On the stormy days or evenings, grab a gardening book and discover new tips to add to your gardening knowledge. A good one to spend time with is 1,001 Old-Time Garden Tips edited by Roger Yepsen. The book includes “timeless bits of wisdom on how to grow everything organically, from the good old days when everyone did”.
Then of course is one of our favourites, browse the garden centers. This usually results in some new and neat tools being added to the shed!
If you have any other suggestions, please share in the comment section.
We continue to use Grow Veg’s Garden Planner software and truly believe that it’s use has enabled continued success in our gardens. It is easy to use and you can plan this year’s garden using the free trial. Here is a repost of our February 2015 blog.
In an earlier post, “Time to Plan the Garden”, I referred to the use of an excellent tool called the Garden Planner.
The illustration is of our Upper Garden (still in the planning stages). A raised bed garden where we experiment with Square Foot Gardening, as well as locate our garlic and asparagus beds. This year we used the Garden Planer to plan the irrigation system. Once everything was located, the Garden Planner produced a materials list detailing what was needed to complete the irrigation system. This materials list was very helpful to review our current inventory of irrigation parts and enabled us to order new.
This is one of the great features of the Garden Planner that we have come to like. In addition to producing a materials list for the irrigation system, the Garden Planner will produce a seed and plant list for our garden making it easy to determine what we need to buy for the 2015 garden.
Learning how to use the Garden Planner is easy and to help you get started there are nine training videos available detailing all the features of the Garden Planner.
As I plowed out the homestead today, I had the radio tuned to Stewart McLean, host of The Vinyl Café. Today’s show focused on Daydreaming. (You can listen to Stewart here.) Ann Murray sang “Daydream Believer”, and later, The Loving Spoonful joined in with “What a Day for a Daydream”. Those tunes took me back to the Sixties for a while and then the mind began to wander to warmer days and into the garden. It was more of the “I wonder” kind of daydream. The kind of thoughtful daydream that one can allow the mind to explore the “whys” of why you choose to do things. Like, “Why have a garden?”
When we initially started our garden there was not a lot of thought or planning. We jumped in and created a garden. You may recall how the seed display at Home Depot became our plan. Since then we have put careful thought into what we wanted to achieve. We thought out and wrote down goals for our gardens. The four main goals dealt with production, learning, leisure, and diversity.
Production – We wanted a garden to meet our defined needs. Fresh, nutritious, organic produced food, for canning, pickling, freezing, and winter storage. And for fresh salads, beet greens, HodgePodge,
strawberry pie, etc.
Learning – We wanted to gain knowledge about gardening. Experiment with raised rows, raised beds, square foot gardening, vertical gardening, and straw bale gardening. Learn about composting, mulching, and soil development.
Leisure – Create a relaxing environment. A garden for reflection, observation, and of course daydreaming. (our lower garden plan includes a hammock under the pergola!)
Diversity – Our garden will include vegetables, fruit, flowers, and shrubs. We will experiment with different varieties, colours, tastes, and textures.
Having these goals allows us to focus on what is important for us. The goals are like the cornerstones for our garden planning and allow us to establish specific objectives each year.
Looking at the Upper Garden covered in two feet of snow it will be awhile before we will be digging in the soil. Maybe time to relax and daydream about this summer and our gardens.
If you have not already started to plan your 2015 garden now is the time to start. Here is a great tool to help and is a valuable educational resource as well. We used the free version last year and chose to subscribe this year. It is the “Garden Planner” fromGrowVeg.com
Here are the features we like about the Garden Planner.
easy to draw out your vegetable beds, add plants and move them around to get the perfect layout
works for traditional row planting, raised beds, raised row or square foot gardens.
as you add vegetables the space they need is clearly shown by the colored area around each plant and it calculates how many plants will fit into the area
crop rotation is easy as the Garden Planner warns you where you should avoid placing each vegetable based on what was in your previous years’ plans.
enter your address and the Garden Planner adapts to your own area using a database of over 5000 weather stations.
print a planting chart showing how many of each plant and when to sow, plant and harvest them
the Garden Planner sends email reminders of what needs planting from your garden plans
you can organize which crops will follow on from others using the succession planting feature
add customized varieties with their own spacing and planting dates
acts as a garden journal by adding your own notes about what and how your garden grows.
This is our “lower garden” designed with the Garden Planner. (More on the lower garden in a future post.)
Have a look at the Garden Planner in action.
Setting up your Garden Planner account is easy, and there is no obligation to subscribe. If you find it useful the annual subscription is $25. We have found the Garden Planner a great tool for a successful garden and subscribed for two years for $40.