Calendar girl

The best part of winter is drooling over the seed catalog from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange — or as hubby likes to call it, my farm porn. Their seed sells like hot cakes, so I placed my order last night, thinking this early bird would get lots of worms. Nope. Can’t believe on January 2, they were already out of the onions, tomatoes, and cauliflower I wanted, but more is scheduled to arrive around January 10. So I went ahead with my first attempt at a spring and summer garden calendar, assuming those missing varieties will come through.

Creating a simple Excel spreadsheet, I listed all the fields you see below plus actual planting, transplant, and harvest dates. The planned transplant and harvest times were estimated using SESE’s recommended planting dates and days to maturity for each crop. I may be way off, so that’s why I’m keeping up with when these tasks actually happen. That way, next year’s calendar will be even more accurate.

We’ve only got four tiny raised beds, so we’re trying to maximize every inch of space. In the first raised bed, we’ll do carrots followed by summer squash. The second bed will have onions, then winter squash. The front beds will sport a couple of broccoli and cauliflower heads in the spring, then Brussels sprouts later in the year. Because our winters are so mild, I’m going to try to stagger the sprout plantings so we can enjoy them fresh long into the winter. All of the other crops will be in containers.

Hard to believe it’s almost time to convert the kitchen into a greenhouse again. What are you planting this spring, interwebs?

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  • You guys are way more ambitious than I am! I’m planning to start lots of different tomatoes again this year so I’ll have plenty of fresh salsa during the summer and tomato sauce and canned tomatoes for next winter. I’ll start a few sweet and hot peppers during the next month or two as well. I always grow pole beans, cucumbers and zucchini. I’m considering growing potatoes and onions. Last year I grew some sweet potatoes that multiplied nicely but they took up loads of room in the garden because they vine. And I’ll probably try another melon of some sort even though I’ve never had much luck growing cantaloups. And I’ll probably grow some greens like spinach. The garlic is already in the garden space. We can buy fabulous sweet corn so it’s not worth making the space to grow our own. Most of the other veggies we eat are cheaper to buy from a farmers market because we don’t eat enough to put forth the work. The biggest benefit to taste seems to be with the home-grown tomatoes.

  • Girl, I’m with you on the tomatoes. They are, without a doubt, the thing I miss most in winter. We canned 50 pounds this year (purchased from local organic farmers since ours suffered a horrible fungus-induced fate), and that’s still probably not enough to get us through until June.

    The problem is our land is so tiny that there’s only one place to plant tomatoes where they’ll get enough sun. Crop rotation isn’t an option, so by the third season, there was no hope. Going to try to avoid that problem from now on by using Topsy-Turvys along the south side of our house. Ever used them?

    Where are you thinking about putting the potatoes – ground or barrel? We’re going to try one barrel of Yukon Gold this year. It’s our first attempt, but I’ve read positive things on the internet, so I’m hopeful…

  • Have you looked into solarizing your soil? I’ve never tried it but I’ve read you can nuke the crap out of the soil with clear plastic and sunlight to kill lots of bad stuff. The problem is that you can’t use that plot for a summer while you are solarizing it.

    Since you said you have raised beds, maybe you could take some of the soil out and fill it in with compost. Where I live, there’s a commercial composting business so you can buy compost by the yard. Then cover the whole bed with landscape fabric or plastic and plant through the fabric so there’s a bit of a barrier between the plants and the soil. The fabric will keep the moisture in the soil longer too.

    I’ve never used Topsy-Turvys but I’ve tried growing tomatoes in pots and found it to be an up-hill battle to keep them sufficiently watered and fed. They deplete the soil pretty quickly and fill in with roots. I’ve had much better luck with tomatoes planted in the ground.

    If I grow potatoes next year, I’ll plant them in the ground. I haven’t ordered any seed potatoes, though, so if I decide to plant them, I’ll probably use organic potatoes from the grocery store. I did that with a sweet potato that started sprouting before I ate it last year and got about 12 large potatoes in return for the one I planted. I’ll be interested to see how your potato barrel works for you.

  • Jenn,
    What about using straw bales to grow your tomatoes and potatoes, etc.? I have a friend that gardens here in NC and he has had a lot of success using straw bales as planters. A great way to increase your planting area.
    Just search the internet – there are a ton of sites to get you started.
    Good luck with your growing. Keep up the blog – I love your ideas. It’s great inspiration.
    Love you, “Floyd”

  • That’s a great idea and perfect for our tiny space. I’m going to look into it right now. Are you guys growing anything this spring?

    Much, much love to you and Chris!

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