My first seeds arrived in the mail this weekend! As I read the back of each little packet almost every single one said that I could start my seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before my last frost. Last frost? I needed to remember what my zone was as well as look up my last frost date. I used https://garden.org/nga/zipzone/ to confirm that I am in zone 7b. My date of last frost is April 10. I took my trusty budget calendar and counted back 8 weeks that led me to my seed start date as February 13. I have two weeks to decide what plants I will be starting from seed versus buying a plant. I am dreaming of the gardens I want to plant this year. The last two years have been unsuccessful with actual gardening- like the intentional kind where you meant to plant that right where you left it. My first year out in the country was an ambitious goal of about 25 to 30 tomato plants of at least 5 different varieties. They grew quite tall in their pots but were knocked over by our young goat ladies and their leaves and flowers eaten as well…so no success. That early spring I had started herbs from seed and let them germinate in my own little hothouse that doubled as my laundry room. It was successful for at least a month but they too never made it into the ground. Once I got them outside they were also knocked over by the naughty goats and that was the end of that. Last year we had the goats penned up! Yay! That allowed for us to get ambitious (again) with what we wanted to plant. We had squash, lettuce, peppers, celery, melons, four different kinds of tomatoes and herbs. We also had five blackberry bushes that we had planned planting on the outside perimeter of the property. The mints were the only ones that I got into the ground- and technically those are the plants that you are WARNED to not actually plant into a garden because they will spread out of control and regret will set in. So what happened? We were busy. The both of us worked like crazy to be able to afford the house that ultimately, we decided wasn’t worth what we were paying for. The repairs and renovations needed exceeded our time and money and it became disheartening to even look at what we once were so excited to have. It was a mood killer.
I have three gardening needs that I need to meet. To get it all done I need to know what I can plant from seed and what I must buy already started. The areas also need to be tilled and protected from wildlife getting into and eating my future treasures. I forgot, I also have a whimsical garden that I will be planting as well, a fairy village. I have already posted where it’s at. Check me out at Farmish_1 on Instagram for a before picture of the fairy village.
- Planting for food to eat- This one will be our third attempt and I must say that tomatoes are required. If we don’t do tomatoes I think my husband will give up and believe that we will always be buying them from the store.
- Planting for herbs and spices
- Planting to improve my soil or add supplemental feed to my animals
- Planting to give me joy
Food to eat- I made myself a small list of vegetables that if we plant and they actually survive, we will be willing to eat. No reason to grow brussels sprouts if no one wants to eat them. My list includes tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers and onions. I have watermelons and pumpkins on my list as well and they are very helpful to feed my animals. Watermelons are a cooling treat for my chickens and goats and the pumpkins are great supplemental feeding for pigs and goats with a possible additional de worming benefits!
Herbs and Spices- These little seeds that matured into tiny plants the first time I ever tried really gave me a lot of hope. These are lovely smelling little plants that you can keep if you like indoors to snip as needed while you cook. I have not had great success with rosemary- the one I bought during the holidays started to dry up and died slowly over the weeks. I thought I was doing the right thing by not watering it too much but the heat from inside took its toll on it and it dried up like a fresh Christmas tree! This year I am going to add cumin to my little kitchen garden as this is something that I use every time I cook Mexican food, which is several times a week.
Improving my soil and supplemental feed- This week I will be adding another post about the 5 things you need to decide when getting ready to plant and one of the things you need to think about is how healthy is your soil. Responsible farming includes putting back essential nutrients into the earth to help you continue being able to harvest in future years. Testing your soil will help you figure out what you need to add and if the soil is ready to support planting. There are grains and grasses that you can grow as ground cover that help break up clay, hard soil and can feed your animals! Some ground covers are crimson clover, hairy vetch and winter rye that add back into your soil, with many others that can also be used. These cover crops grow during the fallow time (resting period) of gardening and protect the soil from erosion as well. They can be tilled back in to the ground to improve the nitrogen levels and used as fodder to feed chickens, goats, pigs and cattle. See- isn’t that circle neat? We plant the stuff that makes the soil better, the animals eat the stuff, add manure back into to soil to further break down and improve the soil and then the animals are healthy, happy and provide us with nutritious food to eat!
Giving me joy- Who doesn’t like to see the fruits of their labor thrive? This is why you go to all the trouble of starting seeds, pulling weeds, strengthening garden borders and fertilizing as needed. It’s a beautiful thing to see what you planted is serving in so many ways to get you closer to nature. One of the areas that I will be planting for joy is around my chicken coop. Sunflowers will be going in to improve the soil and once the heads seed up, they will be feeding my chickens! And who doesn’t love the country look of sunflowers? Another area that I am planting for joy and fun is a fairy village that I have started under some broken tree branches. Ivy grows over the tree branches, cloaking the area letting in a few rays of sunshine to make it look like a fantasy world. I’m going to try to plant some thyme and mint in that area and hope that there is enough sun there for it to thrive. The thyme will make it look like grass and both it and the mint will help it smell divine!
I hope all my ramblings have given you some inspiration to check out gardening catalogs online or at your local feed and garden store. Don’t forget to come back this week to see my post about the 5 things to you need to decide when getting ready to plant your garden. Let me know what you are excited to grow this year and is there anything that you won’t grow- like my brussels sprouts!