Record flooding hit the farm this week. We were fortunate and only had minor loss and damage. As soon as the rain cleared, the cold hit. I went from nursing a sunburn on Christmas Day, to nursing hot cocoa two days later. The weather in the Ozarks is truly like no other in the world.
I am not a huge fan of the cold. There is always a million things outside to be done! However, when the weather chases me inside, the work doesn’t end. There are a million things to organize and plan. And the long cold nights are honestly the only time I have to get it done!
And guess what came on the last mail day? My first two seed catalogs of the season! Yay!
After my first year, which was a disaster, I started putting a lot more thought and work into the planning process. I no longer pick up some cool looking seeds and throw them in the ground. First, I started by determining my exact zone. Use the USDA chart to find yours. When making a list of possible seeds to buy, I first note the zone. I also try a quick google search to make sure there hasn’t been some known regional problems. For example, several types of cucumber are hardy for my zone. But a few varieties are known to swelter and give out early in our region. Seeds can be expensive and I like to minimize failures where possible. When I narrow down my varieties to match my budget, I then search for the least expensive carrier. Seed prices can vary greatly and so can the amount of seeds you receive. Factor in shipping prices and also make sure not to miss any active coupon codes.
I am nearing a collection of over 600 varieties of seeds. This requires a spreadsheet. I added fields for success and yield, as well as supplier. I plant two or three varieties a year and this helps me know where to come back to when I want some more.
It also requires that I use the full spectrum of each season, from mid February to December. That’s right, I only go without planting for about six weeks! I planted garlic two weeks ago to harvest in early to mid spring. I will start my greens again on Valentine’s day. I do have a single cold frame, which is currently protecting tomorrow night’s greens and sprouts. All the rest are sown in ground or started in the cabin. Mother Earth News has an excellent planner that is free.
Finally, I do a mockup of my garden. I draw it up and determine which plants need to go where. I consider crop rotation and companion planting. I keep these from year to year so I have a general idea of where things should go.
Planning my garden takes a few weeks. It is a wonderful way to spend those icy nights. My production ratios have improved dramatically and I have certainly seen far less failures. I still love to have a wild variety, but the research and planning goes a long way to ensure that the garden is fruitful. I hope this helps you all while we dream of Spring!