It's that time of year when seed catalogs start coming in the mail, and the craving for some fresh vegis seems to overtake me. Our stock in the freezer is dwindling, and I'm dreaming of the asparagus coming up in a few short months...the first in our garden to appear.
So when the ground is covered with snow, and we forget what it's like to see color outside the window, it must be time to start letting the mind wander to the next year's garden.
I'll remind everyone that even though my husband grows corn and soy beans on literally thousands of acres, I'm really bad at making plants grow. I feel it's my shame to be a farm wife who is so bad at gardening. You have no idea how many times I've thought of throwing in the towel and joining our local co-op where fresh vegis will be delivered to my house. It sounds lovely.
However, I feel it would be a waste of the garden space I have. Plus, isn't it good (in theory) to teach my kids this stuff? Isn't it good for them to see where food comes from, and how it grows? If we didn't live on this farm, I'd go the co-op route in a heartbeat. However, here I feel it's wise to work with what is already in front of me: land.
Since I have no idea what I'm doing, I try every year to mix it up. I like to try new things, and I do a lot of reading on the subject. Knut's parents had their garden down to a science when they lived here, and they planted what they knew would grow, and they had a beautiful crop pretty much every year. Me? Well I'm all over the place. I want to try new seeds, I ask questions that don't make sense to anyone. I think growing weird vegis that you can't buy at the store sounds fun. I like to experiment, and that usually means I fall on my face a lot.
I'm also really bad at weeding. I have not figured out how to kill weeds and keep my kids alive simultaneously. The episode where Elias was playing in the grass next to the garden as a toddler and ate a handful of mushrooms he found growing there is still burned in my brain. Poison control was very helpful to me that day.
Mixing up my garden every year and trying new things keeps me interested. I keeps it exciting and less chore-like. So this year, I'm adding a few new plants. I'll be squeezing more rows into the space, which Knut assures me will help with my weeding problems. As a family we're eating so much more every year, that I think it might be necessary to plant more.
So this year I'm planting mostly heirlooms...just to be wild and crazy. Maybe I'm opening my garden to diseases, but I like that when I have leftover seeds, I will be able to use them easier the next year. I think teaching the kids how to harvest seeds will be a good science lesson. I've been reading that heirloom seeds last at least 5 years when they are not refrigerated, and longer if they are. So I have 5 years to figure out how to harvest the seeds. Plus, I read that heirloom plants have a ton of flavor. If I'm doing the work of the garden, I like the maximize on the rewards: flavor!
So here's my list this year, if anyone is interested.
*means that this plant is already in my garden and grows back every Spring automatically.
** means I've never grown this in the garden before
*strawberries (3 rows)
peas (3 rows)
tomatoes (3 varieties...still undecided)
peppers (2 colors of bell (green and pinot noir or a red, 1 jalepeno)
green beans (bush)
**carrots (1 row, 3 varieties: nantes, dragon, and paris market)
Silje's really excited about the carrots we're growing. The nantes are a traditional carrot, the dragon is a purple skinned carrot, with orange inside, and the paris market is a round, ball shaped carrot that's supposed to grow well in heavy soil, which is what we have. I'm hoping the kids will really have fun with those.
I had no idea you could grow heirloom purple cauliflower either, so I just have to try it. It feels like a $2 seed packet of wild and crazy. ;)
I'm also going to be planting more herbs, which Knut and I decided will go into our flower bed: camomile, dill and thyme.
Except my daughter, Silje, just told me that dill is supposed to be planted next to tomatoes, because the tomato bugs hate it. Then she got a library book and showed me her reference. So, um, yeah, I'm doing this so the KIDS will learn something. (Seriously, this girl has a photographic memory and keeps correcting me and is right. It's sometimes annoying.) I love you, Silje.
So the dill is back on the vegi garden map...next to the tomatoes.
I'm also debating over growing some onions, and perhaps some sweet potatoes. I'm going to cook up some sweet potato fries this week, and see if my kids like them before I grow them. I have room for either some butternut squash or pie pumpkins and I need to decide between the 2. Knut loves squash, but none of the kids do, and we grew them last year. Last time I grew 1 plant of pie pumpkins I ended up with 90+ of them. I gave away dozens, but now 3 years later my freezer only has a few of them left (cooked and ready to use in pies/breads of course). It might be time to restock my freezer with that.
I took some of my knitting pattern profits and just bought myself a sweet, HUGE food processor that came this week, so I'm planning on making salsa this year. I'm also almost out of jams as I skipped making that last year. Silje and I want to try pickles too, hence the cucumber and dill. It should be a busy canning season this year.
I'm also planning on putting some zinneas and perhaps some marigolds in the vegi garden, and we NEED to get a fence around the garden this year. Last year deer and rabbits took almost my whole crop of strawberries, raspberries, and peas and I will not allow that again. Knut is not happy about it, but I'm insisting on a fence. I've heard adding marigolds to the vegi garden detours deer. I figure if they don't, at least it will be pretty, so there's not a huge risk to test that theory.
We also might be getting 2 beef steers this spring, and fencing off the lower yard for them to eat up. I think Knut wants them equally for the meat, and their ability to cut his mowing time in half. That's not really garden talk, but it's under the sustainable-living conversation, so I thought I'd throw that in. We also might get a moveable A-frame trailer and do a ton of meat chickens with Knut's cousin. Well, we'll see how much time we get this spring. Maybe we'll only do 1 of those ideas. Maybe we won't do either. We'll see.
I think the kids and I will be busy this summer! Will I get it all done? Probably not. It's fun to dream, though!