planning the garden: part 1

Ok it’s February. And in my neck of the woods, it seems everybody and their dog is preparing for the Olympics, not spring. In fact the opposite. The entire city is holding it’s breath and praying for snow. Not me though, boy oh boy. February is time to plan the garden. I’m excited about the Olympics, especially after scoring free tickets to men’s ice hockey – whooooo!! but not nearly as excited as I am about my new-born onions.

As I’m writing this it is absolutely miserable outside and I’m chowing down a big glass of Prospect Winery Merlot Cab and a hot bowl of chili made with Big Bear Ranch organic beef, local corn, homegrown heirloom tomatoes and only a small portion of the huge glut of peppers from last summer still languishing in my freezer. About as wintery a scene as you can get (minus the much needed snow, of course) and yet my mind is on spring.

This past Saturday while it poured buckets outside, Jeff and I spent the entire day curled up in bed, drinking copious amounts of coffee as we poured over seed catalogues and our favorite reference books and planned the coming year’s garden. Call me a geek – but in my mind that’s as close to a perfect day as it gets.

As per usual we went completely overboard, planning on a gazillion varieties of veg including no less than 6 varieties of heirloom beets and who knows how many kinds of tomatoes. I get excited. I can’t help myself. It just happens.

Jeff made a gigantic week-by-week planting chart for each variety of veg. It took him the better part of the afternoon but it was well worth it. How’s that go – Fail to plan, plant to fail? ┬áSomething like that. ┬áMaybe this year my winter veg will be taller than knee-high to a grasshopper before the frost hits!

As for me, I put that art degree of mine to work. (And they said I’d never use it! Hah!)

I must say I don’t understand people who can plan their gardens using squares on a computer. I have to *see* it. I guess if we were planting in a more traditional manner – row upon boring row – squares would work.

Not to say there’s not a method to my madness. Jeff and I have planned our garden around how we want to use it. Just because we grow a ton of veggies doesn’t mean we never throw backyard parties or actually relax in our yard once in a while. This is the biggest flaw I see in the gardens of urban farming proponents that I’ve visited. Yes we need to grow food in the city. Yes we need to ditch the lawn – but we can’t do it at our own expense! I was shocked to hear one lady say that she was going to rip out part of her veggie bed (that had devoured her ENTIRE backyard) and plant flowers because – I HAVE NO WHERE TO SIT. Ok to me that’s just foolishness. ┬áPlan a space to sit, silly!

my backyard patio surrounded by veg and herbs

My backyard has not one, but two seating areas – a tiny space of turf under the plum tree and a permeable patio under an arbour shaded by grape vines, beans, sweet peas and squash. See? Plenty of room for you AND your veg. If we don’t make our edible landscapes livable, no one will ever stick with it. It has to be tasty, productive, practical and beautiful. My recent discovery of permaculture practices (which I was doing before I knew what they were called) has confirmed for me that the best landscapes are the ones that meet multiple needs. (More on permaculture some other time, it’s a fascinating topic.)

Check out planning your garden part two for some important questions to ask yourself as you plan to Eat Your Lawn!

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