Believe it or not, I start working on my Spring garden in the Fall. Since I am a raised bad gardening enthusiast, it makes sense to have everything ready to go before the weather gets bad. This year, we had an unseasonably warm start to Autumn, however, so I had warm-weather crops in the garden for far longer than usual. As a matter-of-fact, it is November 29th, and I just finished preserving my last tomatoes! The biggest sign that I am running late in preparing for next year is that I got my first 2017 seed catalogs, already!
So what is involved in planning for next year’s garden? The first thing I do is try to get the soil prepared before the snow flies… if it flies. You never know about the weather in Indiana. Some years we get nearly no snow at all, and other years we get much. I remember it being 85 degrees, one morning, and by 4 PM, a cold front went through, and we were battling temperatures under 20 degrees. The heater in the car didn’t work, because I ran the air conditioner in the morning, and the condensation froze the fan blades in place in the evening! The point is that since the weather in Indiana is somewhat unpredictable for long term forecasting, I try to get the beds maintained and ready to go as early in the Autumn as possible (more information in a future blog).
The next step to preparing for Spring is to make a planting plan. I use Microsoft Excel to keep track of everything I plant by creating a diagram of my raised beds. In each box, I write some information about what was just grown in each bed. Since I rotate my crops to keep weeds, disease, and insects under control, I make sure that I refer to the current year’s crops to plan for next year’s proposed plantings (I will talk about crop rotation in a future blog). Then, I simply make a plan of action for the following year.
With the world moving toward getting almost all of their information from the internet, I must say that the internet is certainly helpful when researching and buying seeds and plants. However, I love to look through seed catalogs, and I can take them anywhere with me (waiting rooms, movie theaters, airplanes, school…). They provide me with a tactile (hands-on) way to connect with my garden when the weather is too bad to be outside. The front of most seed catalogs usually highlights new and award-winning breeds and hybrids. The catalogs also offer information which I can learn from, and any day I learn something is a great day!
Finally, preparing for the garden means building (or planning for building) new or replacement structures and buying what I need (lumber, fencing, wire, seeds, compost, and other needs) for next year’s garden. This year, I used scrap landscape timbers to build some blueberry beds. Last year, I built a couple of strawberry pyramids. I think next year, I might build beds designed for a raspberry patch and growing popcorn… Well, maybe. You never know what new ideas I will come up with when I look at those seed catalogs. Check back, this Winter, and I will update you!