When it’s seed catalog time, this song describes my state of mind: I Want It All by Queen.
When I was a little kid we often went to the K&S cafeteria. You won’t catch me dead in those places now, but at the time it was quite exciting to me. It all looked good, so I grabbed it all! My Dad was always last in line, and he would check out with an empty tray except for an iced tea. He knew I could only eat 10% of what was on my plate, and he would get the rest. The perennial family joke was that my eyes were bigger than my stomach.
I’m no different now, as a grown-up, at least when it comes to plants. I want them all. And when these eyes-bigger-than-my-garden receives gobzoodles of seed catalogs, my eyeballs almost explode with excitement. Perhaps I could plant them all on my 27 acres in the country, but my “stomach”, that is – my time, is not big enough.
Therefore, I must Plan.
I have a philosophy that every year I try to grow a new vegetable. Last year for some reason I decided to try about 6 new vegetables. Parsnips did not even make it out of the seed packet. Parsnip seeds, as it turns out, only last one year, so I wasted them. I *hate* to waste things! So this year, I am going to take a different tack – back to basics. This year, my new vegetable is going to be winter greens. I ordered a 6-pack of seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange called Even Star “Ice Bred” Hardy Winter Greens Mix. Yes, this is more than one vegetable but they will be planted together. I can’t tell you how damn cool it is to harvest greens from your garden in the wintertime! With few other distractions during winter greens season I should be able to not screw this up. Perhaps.
I have also committed to a major project this year to create a large, brand spanking new garden bed that will surround a deck we have in front of an out-building we call the “Playhouse.” The playhouse was originally built by previous owners to grow pot and host bands (long story) but now holds our toilet and fridge, and sleeps certain friends and their dogs when they visit, among other things. The deck in front is begging for some plantings around it.
I’ve been inspired by Anna at WaldenEffect.org to grow an insectary garden, which will be the basis of this new garden. Being a permaculture wanna-be I will grow some food in there too, and also make it a hugelkultur bed. (The hugelkultur bed is already in place, waiting for plants, a future post.) Keeping the deer out without an ugly fence could be my biggest challenge.
Back to The Plan. Since I am a geek I do this with a spreadsheet. There’s lots of ways to plan a garden, but the best way for me is to simply list what I “need” (i.e., I NEED corn and tomatoes) and what I want. I then go through my box of leftover seeds and mark off any needs and wants as Have.
|Cabbage||Early Jersey Wakefield||have||$0.00|
Then, I pore through catalogs and fill in my need and wants with variety names and the company I’d order them from. Poring through the catalogs creates new wants. Of course, I end up with way too many items. I start to purge, and create a list at the bottom called Maybe Next Year. After decades of doing this, I have a pretty good feel for what I can handle. I lie to myself though, so this year I moved a few extra items to Maybe Next Year. It hurts, but it’s for my own good.
At least that’s the plan.