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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tales from the Garden: Season Prep!

After last year's groundhog escapade, I must admit I was not actually too thrilled to be nearing garden prep again.  Watching that little critter demolish months of work and effort, planning and excitement, in a matter of days was such an emotional event for me.  It was incredibly frustrating and, honestly, totally stole the wind from my sail.  Even though my awesome husband took the critter out with a through-and-through arrow shot, we came to find another one had learned of our "secret" stash of goodies and followed in to fill the gap.  I think he only ended up killing two of them (maybe three), but not knowing whether or not more would continue to come, I found little enticement to go care for my previously thriving garden after that point.  The tomatoes had been stripped and pulled, the sunflowers had been bent and torn, the lettuces were completely gone in one bite, and on it went.  :::humph:::  That was a rough summer's end.

So, I have been wrestling with this issue for weeks.  "Lord, should I really devote all this time and energy into something that could be swept away in a moment's notice?"  Eventually, I heard the reply..."yes."  Lol, sometimes it is that simple.  The truth is I already know the value of the garden.  He has been teaching me that for years.  Parable after parable uses His creation to teach lifelong lessons, and what better place than to learn it in the backyard while experiencing the fruits of our labor?  I knew I must persevere.  Those groundhogs will not get the better of us!  I was, though, extremely grateful when we stumbled upon a critter protecting plan for the garden beds (basically a wood, boxed frame with chicken wire over it).  At least I knew we had a defense plan that did not include the hubs having to sit post on a perch watching over the seeds each day =0)  I know it will not deal with any under ground development, but it is better than nothing.  I will take it!

I have been trying to get myself together enough to sit down and work out the planting plans for the garden beds this year, and finally yesterday I was successful.  I plopped down at the kitchen table and for the next hour or more plotted out carefully what will go where and be followed by what.  Here's the overview of our plan for the garden:

Goal:  Everyone has their own purpose for gardening (some pleasure, some experience, some production, etc.)  This garden is purposed for production, as best as we can get, though we are still learning.  I want to be able to curb our grocery bills, store some up for the winter, and have a bit left to bless others.

Strategy:  This year I am using a combination of several different books, websites, etc. that I have been studying to plan the garden.  I will be using one area of the beds for a Spring/Fall garden, while using the other for Summer/Late Fall planting.  I will be using the Square Foot Garden (SFG) method for optimal production, as best as I can figure.  I will be also doing a form of crop rotation, but by crop families.  I hope this will simplify things significantly.  I have no idea if my plants are paired well, or not, but I sure hope so!

Layout:  The garden on the side of the house will be the Spring/Fall garden this year (I have not yet done the seasonal type of planning, so this will be interesting), which will have lots of carrots, potatoes, kale, cabbage, broccoli, peas, beans and lettuces sprinkled here and there.  The Summer/Late Fall garden will contain the asparagus bed, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes, peas, beans, onions, potatoes, garlic, shallots, etc.  Obviously these are not in any particular order.

Resources:  The two books that I have gleaned from the most and will be returning to throughout the year are The Square Foot Garden and The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener.  These are awesome books and chock full of information.  I just hope I can keep myself together enough to keep it all spinning.

Seeds/Transplants:  I have not yet been successful at planting seeds in the home and getting them thriving once moved to the garden, but hopefully this year will be a bit better.  I will be purchasing any needed seeds from Burgess, an inexpensive but extensive supplier of all things garden.  I also need to give more attention to our two apple trees this year with a better watering system and plenty of mulch.  Last year they kind of were neglected (oops).  I am pleased to say, though, that I am finally getting my seeds better organized which is awesome since the whole "throw them into bags haphazardly" idea was not working out so well.  More on that in another post.

Well, that is the plan in a nutshell.  This will only be our third year in the garden, and we continue to learn more and more about ourselves and God's Creation each year as we go along.  What are your gardening plans this year?

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