Each year as we prepare for our vegetable garden, I feel like we’ve learned a little more and are able to streamline our process. I’m always hopeful of fantastic harvests, but with a few years of trial and error under our belts, that hope is tempered with a good dose of reality. Still, I am continually on the lookout for resources that can give us an edge in our cool, wet climate.
The seeds: This year, I wanted to try focusing on varieties of vegetables that made the most sense for our zone. Thankfully, Erika saved me several days worth of research and distilled it all in one fantastic post: “How to Pick Your Vegetable Seeds Without Going Crazy”. I will be returning to this every year—tons of great stuff. Since we live in similar climates, I took many of her suggestions for seed varieties when I placed my order; it’s going to be fun to see how everything turns out. (Even if you don’t garden in the Pacific Northwest, definitely make Erika’s blog a regular read—she always has something useful to offer and presents it in straightforward manner.)
The timing: Every year, this one gets me. In our area, the local wisdom says, “Don’t plant anything in the ground until Mother’s Day.” I keep my eye on the plots of several gardening veterans around town and pretty much follow the Mother’s Day theory. The one problem with that piece of advice is that it doesn’t take into account cool weather crops like lettuce, peas, and spinach that should thrive here and need to be in the ground long before May. In the past I’ve followed the free weekly garden reminders from My Squarefoot Garden, but I have trouble remembering to check up on what I’m supposed to be doing, at what time, every week, and generally end up falling behind.
I’ve also played around with spreadsheets and Google Calendar, attempting to construct my own master planting calendar. This method does not work well for the season of life I am in, however, so imagine my excitement when I found this nifty tool at All Things Plants, through a post on Baker Creek’s blog. Simply type in your zip code and receive a table with all the information you need to know about when to plant what, plus some insightful observations and advice on growing vegetables in your specific area.
If you’re even a semi-serious gardener and you’re not following the blog Chiot’s Run by Susy Morris, you’re missing out. Along with her husband, Brian, they also produce a weekly podcast (Cultivate Simple) which often focuses on different gardening topics. I’m using several of the Chiot’s Run resources as I start my seeds this year:
- Podcast #16—“Ready, Set, Grow”
- Seed Starting 101—blog series
- Susy also has a seed starting ebook in the works which isn’t ready just yet, but I’ll probably be using it next year as well.
Cowboy set me up with an actual grow light and area for me to start my seeds this year. I just planted two flats of seeds today, and I’m expecting good things ahead.
What new tactics are you trying in the garden this year? What gardening wisdom have you used successfully with your plants?