What’s Happening in the Garden: Early Winter
(This is not me. I’m dedicated… but not crazy.)
It is far too cold and dreary to be doing anything outside this time of year, so I’m taking care of inside stuff. Here are a few things that can be done now in preparation for the coming season:
Review garden notes from last season. If you’re like me and have a less-than-perfect memory, it’s helpful to keep some notes about your garden activities — e.g., what you planted and when, when you started harvesting, how much rain you got, etc. You can be as detailed or general as you’d like — I usually keep it pretty simple, and just record the varieties of plants and planting/harvest dates. I’m reviewing my notes now to refresh my memory about what worked and what didn’t this past season, so I can begin planning for the upcoming season.
Create a garden plan. Each season is unique unto itself — sometimes certain crops work, and other times they don’t. So each new year I build on what I learned the previous year, discarding the failures and repeating the successes. Right now I’m mapping the layout of my beds using Mother Earth’s garden planning tool. This tool is super-helpful and so easy to use — you type in the dimensions of your bed(s), and drag and drop the veggies you want to plant. It automatically adjusts the amount of space each plant needs, based on how large the plants grow. This is particularly useful for urban gardeners, who need to maximize small spaces. Here’s a sample garden layout created using their tool:
Order seeds. I never thought there would come a day when I’d be excited about receiving the new seed catalog in the mail, but that is what has become of me. It is surprisingly gratifying to look through the new catalog, read about all the different varieties of plants, and circle the ones I want to try this spring. I particularly like Southern Exposure Seed Exchange — it’s a local farm in central Virginia, so they know what grows well here in our region. And their seeds are organic, which is important to me. Right now I’ve got 37 seed varieties circled in the catalog… I’m going to have to narrow it down a bit, or else commandeer my neighbors’ yards to expand my growing space.
Eat the very last of the harvest. Amazingly, the final tomatoes we pulled out of the garden back in November are still fresh in January. This is definitely a record for us — we picked them in early November when they were totally green, and I put them on our windowsill to ripen. They took forever — almost eight weeks — and I figured they’d rot before they turned red, but they didn’t. We sliced our last one for a sandwich the other day, and it was delicious. I truly had no idea how long a tomato could last without rotting; this does not speak highly of the tomatoes we get from the supermarket that rot within a week — it shows just how long it’s been since they were picked.
These are our November tomatoes — we ate the last one this week.
And that wraps up our January garden activities. Next up: my first attempt at sowing our seeds indoors.