I try to post what’s growing here in my northern potager (kitchen) garden once a month. This month obviously not much is growing, aside from bigger and bigger plans, so I thought I would pre-plan by first outlining my mistakes from last year. (Oh, remember there is always something going on in the soil! So, the soil is growing this month and I / we just can’t see it.)
This post is also in response to Fer’s call for a World Garden Blog Carnival, Gardening for the New Year. So, be sure to stop by her blog, My Little Garden in Japan, to see what gardeners are planning for the new year all around the world!
Back to lessons learned …
Here are my sketches for my plans for the potager last season.
This is good because now I can rotate my families of plants this year. I haven’t been growing vegetables for very long so my experience is limited, but I have practiced crop rotation from the beginning and problems with pests and diseases have been very minor. I also like to companion plant where I can. Also great is that I wrote down some of my planting dates!
I should have written down ALL of my planting AND harvest dates. My resolution is to successfully succession plant this year (say that five times fast). But now I am not sure of when my lettuce bolted or when I ripped it out. Although I tried to reseed during the heat of summer, the lettuce never took off again, or the spinach. I guess I can plant at the same time this year because it did do well at first, but I will only plant a little at a time. I’ll plant every week. Last year I wound up with a huge crop of spinach that I couldn’t possibly eat all at once. Lesson learned.
In fact, I’m going to plant less of everything but more variety. New plants to try on my mind? Artichoke, broccoli raab, cayenne peppers, chinese napa cabbage, mustard greens, purple dragon carrots, romanesco broccoflower … less is more!
Root vegetables that were planted in brand new beds last year turned out quite ugly. Although amended, the predominately clay soil is a tough cookie to crack. Those poor “roots” contorted into amazing shapes as they tried to grow down. Root vegetables this year are reserved for the raised beds with the nice, soft, easy going dirt.
|Butt crack carrot – ugly!|
Even uglier is how the neighborhood cats think of my raised beds as their own personal outdoor litter boxes! It is difficult to start seedlings. Once things are grown in, it is no longer a problem. A new fence on the other side of our property line should help, but I will be stocking up on cayenne pepper just the same. This year I am also going to try to plant some garden rue along the edges of my beds. Supposedly a plant that nearly all animals turn their noses up at – deer, dogs, cats, rabbits … (Hey, some of this planted near the front sidewalk might not be a bad idea, either!) I now affectionately refer to Mojo as “my little bear.” One stomp of his paw could mean disaster for a tender seedling. Maybe the rue will also make for a natural boundary for him as well.
|My little bear|
Now that I have a good idea of how to improve last year’s plantings, I can really begin planning. I will start with a new sketch. Oh, and I also resolve to plant blueberry bushes this year!