Not much happens in the garden in the winter. Especially not in December, with our first hard frosts and snow. And yet some things still happen for a gardener in December.
What’s happening for me in December?
Planning and seed catalogs.
I have seed catalogs showing up! You have no idea how exciting this is until you get seed catalogs and order from them for the first time. I only got two last year, and I loved it. This year I’ve ordered a lot more so I can do some comparisons and try a few more companies. I have more on the way, but so far four have arrived.
What do I look for in seed companies? Well, first of all, I prefer buying organic seed because 1) it is inherently not GMO if it is organic and 2) seeds grown from plants that were grown organically are more likely to grow plants suited to organic growing conditions. I also try to get ones recommended by other gardeners (particularly organic gardeners), and my preference is to buy from companies that have a trustworthy background. If I’m reading a lot about a company being tied too closely to Big Agra, I’m going to avoid them because I really value biodiversity and the ability to save my own seeds if I want to.
So I look through these catalogs and I start to compare varieties, prices, and more. This helps me in planning my garden.
My husband got the lumber for three 3’x12′ raised beds as a birthday present to me, and will assemble them before I need to plant. I’ve been looking at where to get soil to fill them. I’ve also been collecting cardboard to smother all the grass in my garden area, and will put down wood chips or something similar around the garden beds so my husband doesn’t have to worry about mowing over squash vines next year. My little garden corner is going to be so much prettier this year (I hope!).
I might be able to also make one more smaller raised bed, which I’d probably put in the shadier area right by the house and use for shade-loving veggies like lettuce and spinach.
All this space means that I need to plant what I’m going to plant where. Some types of vegetables are better planted near others, especially for convenience of proper crop rotation every year or two in order to better protect crops from disease and pests. Of course the more beds one has, the easier this gets. I want to put in a few more smaller beds over the next couple of years.
To Plant or Not to Plant?
One thing I’m contemplating is doing tomatoes this year. For tomatoes, I have to go big or go home because I don’t like raw tomatoes. I would be canning salsa, sauce, and/or paste, all of which requires larger amounts of tomatoes. That means I have to figure out how many plants of what varieties to plant in order to be able to, at minimum, do a few cans of salsa this summer.
I also have to decide if I want to try to do a row of berries along my back fence. Blackberries grow like weeds around northwest Washington. I can just go to my parents’ house to get a bunch if I want, but cultivating them would give me that much more accessibility and food security. The space might be better served with things that aren’t so easily locally foraged, though. And the whole decision may be better saved for another year.
Thanks, 2016 Garden
We’re closing out this gardening year, and I have to say that it gave me a love for gardening. Even with all the challenges of starting it pregnant, having to replant because I had a baby and everything died from neglect, and it being pretty ugly since it was set into the ground and got overgrown…I loved it. I loved making pumpkin desserts out of my own organically grown pumpkins. I loved the wonder of learning how good homegrown lettuce tastes. I loved it all.
Thanks, 2016, for teaching me how wonderful gardening is.