Mad, Beautiful Ideas
Garden Planning Begins Now

Last Summer, Catherine and I got a 400 square foot plot down at the local community garden. Due to our late start, getting married, and the unfortunate weather last year, our yield was lower than we'd hoped for, but in all, we were still pretty happy. This year, one of those distractions definitely won't be in our lives, and another we're working to avoid. Of course, we don't receive as many seed catalogs as some people, but that's just because last year we started all of our plants from other people's starts.

This year, we saved quite a few seeds from various tomato and pepper plants. Saving seeds is generally pretty easy (and I can't believe I didn't write about this last year!). This summer and fall as we go about saving some of our seeds, I will certainly post about what we do. Saving seeds is a great money saving method of gardening, especially since you can often use grocery-store bought fruits and vegetables to get seeds.

Still, even ignoring preparation which would have begun last year, there is still a lot of planning to do this year. We're still going to need other seeds. We're still going to need to plan our plot, as we can't simply grow all of our crops in the same places we did last year. Crop rotation is important, as you generally don't want to grow members of the mandrake family (tomatoes and potatoes, for instance). This is partially related to the potential for disease, but it's also related to the pH requirements of those plants.

Due to this, we need to plan exactly where we want to plant everything. We need to decide what kind of row covering we want to build (we're planning on building row covers out of PVC so we can plant earlier and have easily removable greenhouses). We need to decide how our rows are going to be situated. There are a lot of decisions to be made before we start our seeds, and certainly before we get the garden ready for planting this Spring.

This year, we have decided to do 'flood' gardening, where we will dig our beds down a couple of inches below our walkways, allowing us to 'flood' the beds when we go to water. This decision was driven in part because one of the most prolific gardeners at our little community garden uses this method, and it certainly does seem to work well.

So, between that and our PVC row covers, we're definitely going to have our work cut out for us. But, it should lead to a solid yield, and some really good food both to eat right away or to can. I know it seems early to be thinking about gardening, but at least now it's mostly just thinking, there will be plenty of time for work soon.