Sunday, January 8, 2012

Garden Dreaming

It's January, and with everything chilly, wet, and dark, it's the time of year I turn to garden planning to keep the winter blues at bay. Over Christmas break, sitting by the fire at my parents' house, with my mom as consultant, I put together a plan for the next year's garden, made lists of seeds to order, and determined crop rotations and when I will need to start seeds, transplant, etc. Mom and Dad sent us home with a big roll of garden fabric (Reemay) for keeping beds warm and pests off, which will allow us to start growing things like greens much earlier in the year than usual. So a few days ago I tilled up one of the raised beds, added a bunch of compost, planted some miner's lettuce seed from Mom, and built a little tent over the bed (the cloth allows 75% of light through), and am hoping that we'll see sprouts out there sometime soon and that I'm not jumping the gun too much.

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)

Inside, we set up a light stand for our florescent grow lights, using Matt's surfboard stands from when he had a shaping room at his dad's house. Unlike last time I started seeds inside and the only space available was under my kitchen table, this time we have lots of space at our disposal. We contemplated setting up the lights in the basement, but it gets pretty cold down there, so we ended up putting them at the top of the stairs in the garret.

Matt is a genius with knots, and hung the lights on twine tied in a way that works like a pulley system so that they can easily be raised and lowered. The lights are plugged into a timer that gives the starts 16 hours of light per day. First thing when the lights were set up, I put together potting mix using some of our best garden soil and compost, and planted several kinds of winter greens and leeks in a tray, put it under the lights, and egged it on. Three days later, I have sprouts of mizuna, mibuna, arugula, red kale, and pak choy!

Just knowing that there are little green growing things in my attic makes me feel better, as does knowing that the days will only get longer from here. We even had to change the timer for the light on the chicken coop, because we're getting 30 more minutes of daylight now than when we first set it!

My seed order from Nichols Garden Nursery arrived yesterday, which was like another little Christmas, and I just got an email that my order from Territorial is on its way! I always get the majority of my seeds from these two seed companies, which are family-owned businesses here in Oregon. We went with mostly heirlooms this year, with a goal of beginning to save our own seeds. I'm really excited about some of the varieties in particular- Tall Telephone (Alderman) peas, Aci Sivri hot peppers (a Turkish heirloom brought to Oregon by a returning Peace Corps volunteer), and also several kinds of flowers that we hope will make our yard more attractive to bees and other pollinators.

I am trying a new approach to garden planning this year. Instead of just using a plain notebook where I jot down notes about when I plant, harvest, etc, I am using a little planner/calendar where I can use the monthly-planner pages to jot down what needs to happen when, and the daily-planner pages to note exactly which day I actually do something. I think having everything in a planner will make it much easier to go back and find the exact date of a certain planting than looking through a book full of scribbled notes.

My garden planner, drawings of our garden beds and crop rotations, and my new garden bible, The Maritime Northwest Garden Guide, published by Seattle Tilth. I highly recommend it if you live in this area!

With all these visions of big heirloom tomatoes, fences and trellises covered in peas and beans, and bushes of multi-colored peppers dancing in my head, I can almost believe that spring is right around the corner. With that, I'm back to school tomorrow (where, exactly, did my month-long break go?!), and after this past week of cleaning, grocery shopping and organizing, with much help from Matt, I am feeling ready to take on another term of grad school, even if it includes a much-dreaded course in Biostatistics. If ever I need a break from all of those standard deviations and p-values, I can just open up my garden planner, see what needs to be done, and go get my hands in the dirt for awhile, right? 

Have a great week, everyone! I hope your new year is going splendidly so far!

1 comment:

FlowerLady said...

You've got great garden plans and I can just imagine your gardens filled to overflowing and giving you much joy.

May you do well this next semester and enjoy diving into your planning book and gardens when you need a break from studying.