Seeds, Seeds and more Seeds

Some may say vegetable gardening is all about the seeds. Every winter as I page through the seed catalogs I can’t help but dream of the perfect harvest. It’s this time of year that I begin laying out my plans for the upcoming gardening seasons. This year seems a little more challenging then¬†the past few years because of my desire to harvest food all year round.

Each year I begin by asking myself three simple questions:
What should I grow? (what seeds do I need)
How much should I grow? (how many seeds do I need)
When should I start it? (what do i do with the seeds)

Garden Plan 2012

To answer the question: what should I grow? I start by laying out my growing seasons and then listing what vegetables I would like to grow in each season. Once I have a general list I begin to select various varieties of each vegetable that are best suited for the season in which I would like to grow them. Most seed companies will supply you with some basic information to help make this process easier. When I have an idea of what I would like to grow, I check my inventory of seeds to determine what I may need to purchase.

2012 Seeds

When trying to determine how much I should grow, I make a basic sketch of my garden layout on a sheet of graph paper. Once my scale and layout is established, I then begin sketching in various vegetables at the recommend spacings. This process is a good reality check, it helps make sure you have room to plant what you want to plant. Once my sketches are complete it is time to start thinking about when to plant.

Each year I keep a detailed spread sheet of all my seed starting information, this is a great reference tool when considering when to start various seeds. With both my growing lists  and garden layouts complete, I begin to develop a rough seed starting timeline for the upcoming seasons. It is only a rough timeline, because there are so many events in our lives that can affect our ability to get to the job of seed starting. The biggest challenges sometimes comes from Mother Nature. Once I begin planting I create a new spread sheet to record the data for the upcoming season. Keeping good records makes planning and planting in the future much easier.

Late Summer Planting – The Arugula is Looking Good

Several weeks ago I decided to do a late planting of some greens for a late fall harvest. I planted: swiss chard, spinach, arugula and two types of lettuce mix. I also planted some old green onion seeds as a test, but the seeds must have been too old because none of the seeds germinated. Right now the arugula looks the best.

This was even after a week of record-breaking rain in the northeast 2 weeks ago, we still have a lot of seedlings doing well. In order to protect the seedlings from the hard rain I had covered the cage with a plastic-backed drop cloth, this helped slow down the hard rain. It also helped deflect some of the rain which kept the seedlings from washing out.

Last spring the rabbits quickly ate all my greens, as a result I decided to build two 4′ x 4′ x 14″ high cages to keep the rabbits out. After years of working in a garden that was surrounded by a chicken wire fence, I was tired of stepping and tripping over fencing. Making these simple cages seemed like an easy way to keep out the critters and allow easy access to working in the garden. The cage also helped make it easy to cover the seedlings from the hard rain. Lets just hope the rabbits don’t try going under the cages.