When the January snow blows it is time to plan the garden. This is always a favorite indoor task for this time of year. And a wet snow encourages both High Plains farmers and gardeners. So, after looking at the forecast showing three chances of snow in one week, I visited the library. Multiple books were checked out including three related to gardening.
The Backyard Gardener by Kelly Orzel, Deerproofing Your Yard & Garden by Rhonda Massingham Hart and an Eyewitness Garden of Pruning & Training edited and published by DK Publishing provided additional reading material. So, the time to plan the garden is nigh.
Before the arrival of snow, temperatures soared into the low sixties (Fahrenheit.) It is quite normal in this part of the world to have a warm-up before a front moves in. Year round we have temperature fluctuations of forty degrees or more on a daily basis. On the High Plains, population is sparse as are trees. This adds to cooling at night without concrete to trap the warmth. Click here for an interesting article from Time discussing concrete and heat.
Therefore, warm afternoons allow one to work in the garden for a few hours. These past two weeks ushered in a clean-up of early crop beds by cutting back the asparagus stalks and cleaning out the bed for the brassicas. After last year’s wind storm wiped out my garlic crop, I’ve become a dirty/lazy gardener leaving stalks in the ground to catch the snow and keep the soil anchored.
An alternative would be to grow a winter cover crop. Something I am considering. Although it seems to be a waste of seed, plowing under rye first thing in the spring.
Time to Plan the Garden: Seed Catalogs
The seed catalogues began arriving just after Christmas. Most are from companies I have ordered from in the past. Although a few are new to me. Perhaps sister companies-much preferable thought to that of my buying habits marketed to others.
Inflation has hit the garden supply industry. Supports such as tomato cages and trellises seem to have doubled in price. Since I do not keep catalogs from year to year this may be inaccurate. But the prices are higher. Planning will be critical and I may upcycle even more in the 2023 garden.
Some seeds were harvested from my own garden last year, including herbs such as dill, parsley and basil. The rosemary will need to be replaced. A necessary cost. The chives, sage and thyme can be divided. A wonderful savings. All indications point to higher costs. Thus, planning will be more important than ever. It certainly is time to plan the garden.
Time to Plan the Garden- Reviewing Notes
By reviewing the notes from my calendars, I know what items to re-order. And which ones to skip. For example, last years eggplants grew larger than the year before, but the vines became diseased. Not ideal for a home garden.
Copious notes help keep track of results. Additionally, the notations include rainfall and freeze dates. We started off with a dry spring, had a slightly wetter early summer and then dried out again. A tough environment.
In my opinion, the average frost dates are meaningless. In the last five years we have had spring freezes as late as Memorial Day and as early as mid-April. The same is true with the fall. Including the threat of a Labor Day freeze in 2020. So, material to protect crops is needed- as is patience. And the ability to adjust to a unpredictable growing season.
Two of the above books will be reviewed in the coming weeks. To read the review of Deerproofing Your Garden click here. For those in warmer climates, spring is just around the corner. It really is time to plan the garden for 2023.