Thursday, January 8, 2015

January Garden Plans


A few years ago, I posted my garden plans each month. It was helpful in keeping me on tract with the proper time to prune, fertilize, and plant. Maybe my goals will help you make your own garden plans, though if you are in a different climate than me you'll have to adjust your garden tasks. My goals will be based on my USDA Zone 6 garden in southern Pennsylvania.
And I hope to learn from you too! Please feel free to share what you are doing in your garden or correct any of my errors. I still have so much to learn (in the garden and elsewhere).


Kale covered with our fresh snowfall this week.

January – the month to dream.
This year, with our mild December I can still find kale in my garden and a few green leaves of spinach and lettuce in my cold frame. But there is not much to do outside in this weather.
But the seed catalogs arrived with the Christmas cards. I know that not everyone joins me in reading seed catalogs like a novel. Maybe you don't want to think about gardening for several more months. But this is an ideal time to evaluate, dream, and learn.
My January Plans

Evaluate

Reflect on what did and did not work in your garden last year (if you kept some records this will be easier) and ask some questions.


1. What did well in last year's garden?
(Plants, varieties, time planted, or specific care)


2. What did not do well in last year's garden?


3. How can I avoid last year's problems and maximize the successes?

Dream

Maybe you spend as little time as possible thinking about your garden and just throw some bean seeds in the soil in May. Or maybe you have a grand scheme for your landscaping that you are slowly working on from year to year.

The large garden books at the library are great for giving inspiration, if you can resist the comparison game. Not many of us can hire a full-time gardener! I find it best to page through a gardening book with pen and paper near-by to jot down the plant names, tips, or ideas that I will never remember in the spring. (Actually that is a great way to read books on various topics. Writing things down is the only way I will remember that great quote, tip, or idea.)

Some questions to consider while dreaming.

1. What new plant/variety/technique/etc would I like to try this year?


2. What changes to my garden would bring it closer to my goals for my garden?

Learn

Evaluation and dreaming may have brought up questions for which I need answers. Maybe I want to start a compost pile, plant a new tree, try some pest prevention, or plant a new-to-me vegetable. Researching now will save staring at a stretch of tilled earth or standing at the nursery overwhelmed by the choices.


1. What questions do I have or topics would I like to learn more about?


2. Where could I best find the answers to my questions?
Such as online, books, experienced gardener, extension office, etc.
These long winter evenings are also a great time to learn something new. And if the thought of reading a gardening book puts you to sleep - or is simply revolting, choose another topic that interests you. 
Some of my favorite gardening books to dream and learn.

Just for fun, here are my answers to some of these questions.

Evaluate

1. What did well in last year's garden?
Onions. For the first time ever my onions did not rot in storage. They are still firm in January! Was it because of the regular rainfall last summer? 


2. What did not do well in last year's garden?
Tomatoes. Blight. Again. 


3.
How can I avoid last year's problems and maximize the successes? Maybe I need to resort to a regular system of spraying the tomatoes for blight. I have tried moving them to a different place in the garden but that doesn't seem to be working, probably too small of an area.


Dream

1. What new plant/variety/technique/etc would I like to try this year?
I want to do better in starting a fall garden. I always seem to get it planted too late to do well. It is hard to remember to plant the fall garden in the busy season of July and August.


2. What changes to my garden would bring it closer to my goals for my garden? I want to include my children more in the garden. They are old enough to learn more about gardening so I hope to include them more in all facets – starting with choosing garden seeds. 

I also want to be realistic. Next summer I'll have a busy one-year-old. She isn't going to be satisfied to sit and watch from the stroller. As much as possible I hope to streamline garden tasks. A good layer of mulch on the garden this spring will help tremendously.

Learn

1.
What questions do I have or topics would I like to learn more about? How to conquer blight. How to build soil fertility. 


2. Where could I best find the answers to my questions? I'll probably start with the books on my shelf, then look online, and maybe find a book or two from the library.


Are you thinking about gardening yet? What do you hope to do differently this year? Share with us in the comments.



8 comments :

  1. My husband's 91 year old grandma gave me the tip to plant the smaller tomato varieties under the bean tents so they stay dry (=less blight). I haven't tried it yet, but she is gardening on a very small patch with lots of success, so I might give it a try this year. Blessings!

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  2. We started a way of gardening that you don't till or weed (hardly). Check it out. We love it. www.backtoedenfilm.com. Also check out L2Survive on youtube.

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  3. I don't think much about the garden anymore as I have the next best thing to a full time garden. My married daughter lives next door and she is a farmer, really. She has her degrees in animal and plants sciences and husbandry etc and she manages an organic free range chicken farm. For 3 summers she worked with a CSA. She took over all my gardens, expanded them even, repaired the old green house so she could extend the seasons, built row covers and some raised beds and trellisses. oh my. All I have to do is take care of the flowers, herbs and a few vegetables planted in the pots and raised beds around my patio. She brings in all the fruits and vegetables and we process in my kitchen. We were able to can and freeze pretty close to what her family (of 2) and my family of 3 with 2 extras need for the year. with lots of extra jams and salsa and relishes and apple sauce to share with the other children too.

    I have never had too much trouble with blight on the tomatoes. We do pinch off non bearing branches though so the plants get better air circulation around them. We also add epsom salts when planting but I think that is more to fend off blossom end rot. I do know, as you said, that it is best to move tomatoes every year.

    Happy garden planning and dreaming!

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    Replies
    1. How wonderful to have such a talented daughter near by! And thanks for the tomato hints. I was wondering if I should prune my tomatoes. They always grow so large. Thanks,
      Gina

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  4. My hubby is the tomato grower at our house and he says be very careful not to water the leaves, but water under the plants - dirt only! Also he said he had good luck growing them in pots as they very seldom got the blight. And yes we are reading the Burpee catalog like it was the latest NY times bestseller! Gives us something to do while we watch the icicles grow and take a break from our winter craft stuff!

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  5. My biggest success last year was using all raised beds! Tremendous results, no weeding, and such a breeze to care for. My favorite go-to varieties? Strike green beans and Celebrity tomatoes. I usually buy all my seeds from Berlin Seeds in Ohio. They have a great catalog with lots of tips, and how-to sections, and wonderful customer support. Plus reasonable prices! Glad I found you here in blog land! One question....can you share how you keep your home tidy:cleaning routines, any rule of thumb you follow. Just general household organization? Like where do you keep your light bulbs and all those little odds n ends anyway?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments and questions! Organization is a constant battle for me. Sometimes I feel successful - and sometimes not. I try to have a "place for everything" and be consistent in putting things away - but it is tough when there are others living in the house. I'm trying to train my children to help clean. Maybe I need to write a whole post on this topic!
      Gina

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  6. Hi Gina,
    I stopped by after googling "scripture on doorposts" and came up with a post of yours from a few years ago about stenciling verses on your walls. I enjoyed perusing your blog!

    My son is building a new home and since I can't manage helping with the framing and installing windows, he put me in charge of writing scripture on the framing before the sheetrock is installed. So I've been checking out various sites to see how everyone else did it! :)

    I love gardening, too, and right now I'm enjoying the rest from all the garden work. Although someone told me I should be plowing my garden bed throughout the winter to expose bugs (especially the ones that have eaten my zucchini every year!) that are living in the soil. I haven't managed to get out there any this winter to till as every time it's a bit warmer and bearable then the ground is too muddy. I'm hoping to possibly till this weekend when the temp may be up to 50 (here in Virginia) and get the raised beds emptied of mean bugs! :)

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I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

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