Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Starting Leeks and Peppers

"Just because we can do something, doesn't mean we have to do it."

I'm not sure who to attribute this saying to but, I like it. And I've decided to apply it to starting tomato seedlings in my basement.  Just because I can start tomato seedlings doesn't mean I have to.  So, no tomato seedlings for me.  They take up too much space and there are always plenty of varieties available at the garden store.

But, because I collected some seeds from our own cayenne pepper plants, scored a free pack of Jalapeno pepper seeds from Sage Gardens (perhaps from a door prize at a conference), I decided to start some pepper seeds.

I also started some leeks since I had such great success with them last year.

Leeks planted March 26, 2011

Leeks 2011

Hot peppers planted March 26, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Garden Plans 2012

It's time to make some plans.  Gardening Saturday is this weekend and I want to be prepared so I know what seeds to buy and what questions to ask.

After sketching out our 30x 40 garden plot, considering planting companions (e.g. onions and carrots go together well to help control carrot flies), ensuring plant rotation and leaving a little space for the kids, I came up with the above plan.  Compare this to the one from last year - Garden Plans 2011.

Notice that I've split our plot into 4 quadrants.  This makes it easy to rotate my crops, which helps control weeds, disease, soil nutrients and pests at least a tiny bit (and every bit helps).   Basically, I just move all the same things from one quadrant into the next quadrant.  In 4 years, the zucchini and pumpkins will be back in the same quadrant. The circle in the middle is where the teepee goes - it provides our dog a shady spot, allows me to keep a few odds and ends down at the plot and is great for scarlet runner beans.

All those Gs in the back refers to the garlic I planted in the fall.

This was the first year I used grid paper to draw my plans.  It made it really easy to estimate how much space I'll need for all the things I want to plant.  Of course, things never work out exactly as planned, but a sketch like this helps me to stay focused on an overall course of action.

Now that my plan is done, I went to the handy dandy planting chart I created last year (also see top bar of this blog - When to Plant or see last year's blog post Planning the Garden). The chart tells me what I need to plant, when and whether to start indoors or seed directly into the garden.

I know that peppers, leeks, tomatoes are things I need to think about right away.  Am I going to start seedlings or am I going to get them from the garden store?  If I'm going to start seedlings - this is the week to do it!

Having looked through my seed box, I also know which seeds I need to buy.

Planning is done, next step buying seeds and starting seedlings. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Fruitful Winter

My life has been taken over by fruit.  Usually, I would be pouring over seed catalogues and planning my garden layout since January but this year, all my attention has been focused on finishing the Prairie Fruit Cookbook (click for a preview).

I am happy to say, the recipe testing and writing are finished!  The book is currently at the printers.  A limited number of copies will be available this weekend at Gardening Saturday - the rest will be available for the book launch at McNally Robinson's on April 30, 2012.

This book started out as a 40 page booklet on where and how to donate backyard fruit in Winnipeg.  It was going to include a couple of recipes and preserving ideas.  That was the plan in April 2011.  Things turned out a little differently.

The book has turned into a 226 page reference guide/cookbook that includes over 150 tested recipes and preserving techniques with colour photos throughout.  For each of the nine prairie fruit chapters, it covers how to identify, harvest, store, and share that fruit.  From apple pie to chai plum jam to fruit leather, it is a one-stop resource.

The battle for my time this spring will be between the garden, Fruit Share and promoting the Prairie Fruit Cookbook (of course my family gets a little of my time too!).  Will I be able to resist the lure digging in rich black earth under a golden sun?