While I sit by the woodstove on a bitter cold January night, my thoughts turn to the spring garden. I can envision the bulb heads appearing, planting pea seed, buds beginning to pop on the trees and bushes, birds returning and looking for new places to nest and warmer longer days.
It is time to look at seed catalogs and make a list of what will be grown this year. I keep a journal yearly with entries on what was grown, how well things did, what critters bothered the garden and if a way to deter them was found, what plant sets were planted and how well they did and finally what the bounty amounted to. This year I have vowed to weigh and keep track of the harvest so that I can figure out what impact my garden has made. I have read about people setting goal weights but since I have no reference point I must start from scratch and record a baseline this season.
This year I plan on only using heirloom seeds and plants so that at the end of the season I can harvest seed for next year. More and more the only seeds that are readily available in garden centers are hybrid seeds. Hybrid seed is not sustainable and will not create a good crop the following year. There is mischief afoot amongst the seed companies and the fertilizer chemical companies and it is my opinion they do not have our best interest at heart. I will do my best to preserve seed and maintain a garden that is not filled with genetically altered plants.
The backyard garden will be enlarged and within the next couple of years all the grass areas will be removed and turned into either raised garden boxes or open growing areas. While I dream about what to grow I am designing the layout of the yard. My yard has a greenbelt of pine trees behind it facing east which block the early morning sun. I must plan for the sun path carefully to maximize the light. I have one well established apple tree and two young fruit trees that don't produce yet (plum and pear). It would be great to put in a grape arbor and get some grape vines going. We will see how industrious I am this year.
Rug remnants from a rug installer have been placed on some of the areas that will be expanded so that the grass, weeds and moss will begin to die out over the winter. It is not really sightly but the method works well. When spring comes I will only have to cover the areas with wet black and white newspaper and then build the raised beds lined with wire mesh on top. The newspaper will block the sun and kill whatever is left while eventually rotting and mulching. The wire mesh is needed because my area is prone to moles. The garden boxes will be filled with compost from my compost pile, composted leaves that have spent the winter in leaf bags, composted manure from a local organic farmer and garden soil that I will purchase. The compost, leaf bags, manure, wood for the raised boxes and carpet remnants are all from free sources which of course is my favorite word as a Frugalista.
Each year my splurge is putting up a small blow up swimming pool. The diameter is about 10 feet and the pool is large and deep enough for me to lay on a blow up raft and think I am the Queen of Everything floating on the Riviera. Only my next door neighbors can see me and since I am not a bathing beauty and since they are away all day at work I feel very comfortable out there lazing away with a good book. I always invite the kids over for a "swim" and they don't care what I look like. This year I would like to construct a wooden platform to put the pool on. This will stop the annual crop circle that magically appears when I take down the pool for the winter. It really isn't very attractive.
So while I sit with my seed catalogs, my notebook with garden drawings and dream of lazy days floating on the Riviera, I know I will be creating the most beautiful garden yet. Certainly time not wasted.
Suggested seed companies that offer heirloom seeds
Sustainable Seed Company
Territorial Seed Company