Monday, January 9, 2017

kinderGARDENER...part 1

It's that time of year. The time to start thinking about what the garden will be like for this coming growing season. Well, "They" say it is that time of year. I personally have never had a garden two years running, so I have never before done this, hence the "kinderGARDENER title! I suppose I should look back at what I did, evaluate how it worked, and then make new plans based on conclusions.  Sounds pretty reasonable, so let's go!

this is what I planned
First, when I started my garden planning last year, I was a bit overwhelmed with the size of the garden. It is about 1/8th of an acre and was by far bigger than any garden I have had to date. Because I am a visual person, I was desperate to find some way to map out the garden so that I could see exactly what was where and when. I finally settled on the Garden Planner put out by The Old Farmer's Almanac. Things I loved: I could move things to my heart's content; I could create seed orders; it calculated seeds needed based on the size of the plots I used; I could map out an entire growing season; and it emailed me when it was time to do stuff. Cons: Well, no cons for the program. But looking back, either I did such a masterful and complete job of laying everything out, OR (the more likely option) I just did not look at it again, once I was done.

what we actually did
Clearly, I did not do much of anything according to my plan!  I think that when I actually got out to the space and was faced with all of that dirt I panicked! I ended up making long rows that ran roughly north/south and at that, things were way too close together. Once August hit, I could barely walk down some of the rows! So, for this year, put what I learned on the ground into the planner and add more space between rows

typical early summer Market offerings

Next, I need to decide if I am buying seeds and planting for our family use or for the Market. I planted for both this year, with some really fun varieties of veggies. Purple beans and orange tomatoes. Round cukes and white and striped winter squash. I found that many of the times, people at the Market were more comfortable with the things they knew (which should be expected) and less comfortable buying strange colored (though beautiful) veggies.

Although, we had so much fun with WEEDs this year! I had my customers trying Lamb's Quarters, Purslane and Plantain.  It was great fun and some people came back asking for more!

fresh from the garden
This year...I don't know. I think I will still plant for both, trying to educate my customers on great tasting AND beautiful veggies and being brave to try new things! It does not hurt to try and we LOVE our colorful variety! Every time I pop open a jar of orange tomatoes for sauce, I am reminded of my beautiful Orange Icicle tomatoes that just kept putting out fruit, no matter what!  We have very much loved all of the seeds we purchased at Baker Creek. What a joy to grow and harvest quality food!

the okra, completely overtaken by the sunflowers

One of my biggest "oh, shoot" moments (well, there are several) was when I planted sunflowers in between my okra. Wow. That was a serious lapse in judgement! They did ok together for awhile, but then the sunflowers shot up and, well, I know there was okra in there somewhere, it was just really hard to see, and since it could not get any sun, it did not produce very well at all. Next year, sunflowers go somewhere else, altogether! But I will plant MORE! The Wytheville Farmer's Market customers LOVED the sunflowers!

I suppose we will wrap this up for today. There is a lot more learning to tell, but this is a homestead and there are plenty of things to do, even in the winter! I hope you will check back tomorrow for "kinderGARDENER part 2" or What we learned about Garlic, Water and Wormy corn.

Oh, don't forget to check out my favorite organization... Ladies Homestead Gathering! They are the reason I am doing all this crazy stuff!

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