Monday, January 29, 2007

Watcha duin?

Not a lot here that's for sure. Well, just lots of little things so I didn't realize it had been 5 (yes, 5 ) whole days since I last posted.
We have been trying to catch up and finish some projects that we have started. We are the all time best about starting projects--how long it takes to finish is another thing. As usual we are making progress and just so you know---I like being busy with all these "things". Yes, sometimes I need a breather but I couldn't imagine what I would do if all I had to do was make dinner and tidy the house. I think I might be bored. Well, let me rephrase: I would be bored.
Anyways the number one thing that has caught my attention right now is marking out/planning my garden beds. Now there is something I hate. You know---when it's new you never know things like: will I like the corn over here or will it be better here. Should I plant one long row of tomatoes, two medium or a couple blocks in different areas?
Then there's also the rotation effect. O.k---if I put the corn here this year next year I will move it to ........ Because of course the amount of corn you plant is definitely more than say the amount of pepper plants--so the corn won't rotate into the same "space" the peppers occupied the year before. That begs the next question of which other plants to put in with the peppers and will they mess up the rotation next year. I know---I am making it sound harder than it is but as will all things until you can just get in there are start doing it (or in this case planting) it is just one big blank thing. A great unknown. A huge white canvas waiting for the first brush stroke---but not the whole can of paint just thrown on it all at once.
So gardeners, can you hear the engines revving?? It seems to get louder and louder with each passing day. No matter that it is bitterly cold this morning. The farther along the garden comes the more I want to be out there PLANTING. Not just looking and moving mulch. Not just staking out corners of new beds. Not drawing plots on paper and planning where I might like my vermi-composting bed or my new bed of raspberries. I want to be DOING.
So now we have exactly 51days until the spring equinox---Yeah!!!!! When that gets here you know that you are either gardening (in my case in the south) or pretty darn close to it. Even if you are not gardening at that point the sun is getting closer and the earth moving day by day to warmer days.
In my minds eye I see all the other gardeners, including myself, looking longingly out the window towards their gardens. Then walking across the room to pick up the seed catalog one more time---just to look. Because of course, by now, most of us have ordered all the seeds (plus more) than we could possibly ever fit in our gardens in a couple of years. Looking though gives the perception of doing. Doing something other than just waiting.

Here are a few things to leave you with that have to do with plant rotations just in case you have never read Elliot Coleman's book "Four Season Harvest". His book is not the only one with this information but I always remember it is there. Members of the same family are better off not following each other for a couple of years in a crop rotation so that pests/disease won't build up and so they don't deplete the soil of the same nutrient over and over, year after year. Longer is better between rotations. If you have a small garden and can't rotate on a long schedule---remember plenty of organic matter and compost helps, helps, helps.

Related Crop Families:

Amaryillidaceae: garlic, leek, onion

Cruciferae: arugula, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, chinese cabbage, cress, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rutabaga

Chenopodiaceae: beet, orach, spinach, swiss chard

Compositae: artichoke, chicory, dandelion, endive, escarole, lettuce, radicchio

Cucurbitaceae: cucumber, melon, pumpkin, summer and winter squashes

Gramineae: corn

Leguminosae: bean and pea

Liliaceae: asparagus

Polygonaceae: sorrel

Portulacaceae: claytonia, purslane

Solanaceae: eggplant, pepper, potato, tomato

Tetragoniaceae: new zealand spinach

Umbelliferae: carrot, celery, celeriac, parsley, parsley root, parsnip

Also here is a good cover crop chart to help remember which time of year is best to plant certain things: I always remember that buckwheat is tender but have trouble remembering when it's best to plant hairy vetch for some reason. Maybe it's a bit easier for those in the North since they get a cold winter. Some cover crops/forage crops can be planted either early/mid fall OR early spring here. So most often I have to re look them up to check and see if they are planted spring, fall, winter or any of the above.

Hardy green manures
Legumes: hairy vetch, red clover, sweet clover, white dutch clover
Non Legumes: rye, wheat

Half-Hardy green manures
Legumes: austrian winter pea, berseem clover, black medic, crimsom clover, lupine, purple vetch, rose clover
Non Legumes: barley, mustard, oats,oil radish and phacelia

Tender green manures
Legumes: cowpeas, crotolaria, guar, sesbania
Non Legumes: buckwheat

Good planning everyone!!

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

I spent a good amount of time out in the garden yesterday just starting at the raised beds trying to figure out where I can move things around to. I have so little space that there aren't a lot of options, especially when things like tomatoes and peppers have to be in the few beds that get the most sun.
I need more land!