February is a fantastic time of the year for planing your garden. Around mid January the mail box is stuffed with gardening catalogs. It’s like a candy store! Full of beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables. It can be a bit overwhelming so draw up a game plan before diving into this adventure.
First, decide what vegetables you want to grow. The easiest way to decide is think about what you and your family like to eat. I usually go with the standard tomatoes, onions, lettuce, spinach, carrots, and garlic.
Second, research what grows in your area. As much as I love rhubarb, it does not do well in the desert southwest. Be realistic about what you can grow in your region.
Third, look at your yard and/or growing area. If you are growing mostly in pots and container pick plants and vegetables that grow well in pots. If you are growing in the ground think about vertical space, trellises, and what plants complement each other.
Fourth, limit yourself. It is so easy to believe that you need 4 kinds of cucumbers, 5 types of broccoli, and end up with a seed bill that is through the roof. Keep it simple so gardening is a relaxing event and not a chore.
There are many wonderful seed companies that sell heirloom and non-GMO seeds. Here are some links to my favorite gardening catalogs and web pages. Happy Digging!
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds http://rareseeds.com/
Native Seeds http://www.nativeseeds.org/
Territorial Seed Company http://www.territorialseed.com/
Back in October I planted a ton of garlic. We worked homemade compost into the soil, mulched with leaves from our mulberry trees and straw, watered, and viola garlic shoots popped up and out of the ground before Thanksgiving. This week we received 3 1/2 inches of snow and had several nights that dipped into the low 20′s and days that did not crawl out of the high 30′s. It’s a bit out of the ordinary, but the moisture was greatly appreciated and needed in our neck of the wood. The minimal preparation we went through to overwinter the garlic paid off. What looks like a disaster at 7 a.m. is happy and revived by 10a.m.
Overwintering garlic and cold weather crops is very simple and keeps leaves out of the landfill. Step one: collect leaves. We have several neighbors and friends who save their leaves for us and our glad to have us take the bags of black gold off their hands. Leaves make excellent mulch and help to support and protect your earthworm population during the winter months. They also help to amend the soil of needed nutrients and improve the soil texture. Step two: scatter the leaves where you want them. You can build a leaf mulch pile or you can simply scatter the leaves in your garden and flower beds, and wet them down to start the decomposition process. We have chicken wire around our winter garden beds (mostly to keep the chickens out) which helps to contain the scattered leaves and keeps them from blowing away during storms. Leave Leaves Alone, http://leaveleavesalone.org/Leaf_Mulching_Tips.html (say that three times fast) has good straight forward ways to use leaves to their full potential.
I can’t wait for the garlic harvest in July! And I can’t wait to share my Aunt Judy’s recipe for pickled garlic with you.
So keep your new years resolution to exercise more, bundle up, go out side, and rake up some leaves. You’ll feel better and your garden and flower beds will thank you for it in the spring. Happy raking!