Well, it’s that time of year. The seed catalogs are coming every day now. It’s time to pull out the old stock, take inventory, and order seeds for next year (before they run out!)
I’ve got quite a bit left over. This year, because I was taking two courses during spring semester and two more during summer semester, I did not plant a garden. It was a bit sad, but truly necessary. Instead, my wonderful parents got me three long, deep planters for my deck. I was able to have zucchini, cucumbers, basil, four tomato plants, eggplant, sweet peppers, and lettuce, but that’s about it. Quite a reduction for a girl who’s use to growing more than 10 varieties of just heirloom tomatoes each year in addition to everything else. So this winter, I am dreaming big. I’m thinking raised beds – four of them, four by eight, maybe just four inches deep.
So, I have a lot of seeds. I keep them in a thick plastic bag in my fridge, and every time I get a bag of silica gel in something (you know, “Do Not Eat,”) I throw it in there to keep everything nice and dry. It has worked very well for me and my seeds have remained mostly viable, usually for three or more years. (Larger seeds tend to do better overall than small seeds, which is normal.) I sat down and went through everything, making a list of what I have and what I need or want.
Then, I started looking around on the internet. I like organic seeds of heirloom varieties. I mostly use Heirloom Seeds, Amishland Heirloom Seeds, and Seeds of Change. (Don’t worry, I am certainly not getting paid to say that. Believe me.) I also have gotten a few cool things from Native Seeds SEARCH. This year, I am on the hunt for a non-cylindrical summer squash (think I’m going with Bennings Green Tint Scallop Squash) and one of those crazy, fuzzy-looking sunflowers (probably Teddy Bear Sunflower from Heirloom Seeds, although it’s only a few feet tall.)
Once I figure out what I am getting, I will need a plan. Now that I’ve skipped a year of gardening and am planning to create new beds, my old plan and crop rotation are somewhat out the window. So, I will aim to create a plan that utilizes: (a) companion planting, so the plants help one another thrive, (b) crop rotation, so that I can easily ensure that plants of the same family do not inhabit the same earth within a few years of each other, (c) green manure, making sure that areas of the garden are occasionally replenished by legumes or plants that will add tilth to the soil, (d) height, so that tall plants are used to shade those who need to avoid the late afternoon sun and do not shade those who love the sun, and (e) planting and germination times, so that the ground is always planted to something, and plants that are finished early make way for something else that can germinate despite or because of the current temperature. Hmm. And I want it to be pretty, too.
So, haven’t gotten that far yet, but I’m working on it. I know what I have and what I need, which together tells me what I need to plan to grow. Now, I need to order seeds, make plans to build my beds at some point, and plan how I will plant them.
“In a way Winter is the real Spring–the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature.” – Edna O’Brien
“Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.” – Pietro Aretino