Plotting to Plant
When I woke up to six-degree weather, I had a hard time picturing myself gardening in a few months. Right now I’m sitting in my warm home under a toasty blanket with seed catalogs, the Farmer’s Almanac, and a drawn layout of my Spring gardens surrounding me. There’s a lot to consider when planning my garden. First I plan my crop rotation. Because I don’t use herbicides or pesticides, I depend on this practice to help soil erosion, deter pests, and reduce soil-borne diseases. For this reason, I create a yearly “map” of my garden beds so I know what I planted where last Spring and what I need to plant this Spring.
Below is the 3-year crop rotation I use.
Next, I look at my food inventory to see what’s left of what I’ve preserved in the freezer or stored in cans during previous years. For instance, two years ago I planted so much cabbage with enormous heads, I put up enough sauerkraut to last us several years. So, cabbage won’t be something I plant this Spring.
Once I know what I want to plant, I look at my companion planting chart because some plants aren’t very good neighbors to others. My chart tells me the name of each plant, who its friends are as well as its foes. My beans, beets, carrots, tomatoes, and eggplant enjoy each others’ company but they don’t want to live close to garlic, onions, peppers and sunflowers. That’s why I place these in other beds.
Here’s a great resource for companion planting: https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/companion-planting-guide-zmaz81mjzraw
Then there’s the Farmers’ Almanac that tells me the best days to plant certain vegetables. This may seem a bit outdated for modern farmers, but my mother thinks not.
Gardening was not an option for her family. If they didn’t grow or raise their food, well, there was very little to be eaten. Her father depended on the Farmers’ Almanac to tell him when to do just that. He also weaned his calves using the Zodiac signs. He practiced this when the moon was in the Pisces position (in the feet) which led to less bawling from calf and mom when they were separated.
But I digress…so back to gardening. Once I’ve looked up the best days for planting each vegetable, I put the dates on my calendar to keep my planting schedule on track.
Part of the excitement of planning the garden is trying new plants. Last year I planted broom corn, popcorn, and cotton for the first time. This year I’m trying eggplant, sweet potatoes, garlic and asparagus. I’ve also decided to plant lots of spinach, kale and lettuce to up my healthy food intake. My bee garden is all flowers and herbs so with most being perennials, I don’t have to plant much in that garden. However, I can’t resist adding Dahlia, Alaska Strain Daises, and Lupine.
My Muscadines are planted, my Shiitake logs ready to order, and I’ll add more blueberry bushes by the end of February. I’ll broadcast the wheat in about six weeks since last year's experience inspired me to do it again – just not so much!
So during these cold months while I’m dreaming and plotting for warmer days, it’s a reminder that this freezing weather won’t last forever!