It may be Valentine’s Day, but as spring rolls around, instead of love, this young(ish) man’s fancy turns to thoughts of his garden.
With the state of global, national and local affairs what they are, my mind got a little preoccupied, and I haven’t done as much planning for my backyard garden as I would have liked.
Still, with planting a couple of weeks away for most of the seeds I’m starting indoors, I’ve got some time.
This year, I’m sticking to the basics with a mind for preserving.
I usually enjoy experimenting in the garden with multiple varieties of niche veggies like hot peppers, but I’ll be dedicating less space in my raised beds to whimsy this season and more to tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and onions, all things we consume heavily in my household.
Maybe it’s this persistent pandemic that put me (and many others) in the doomsday preppers state of mind, or maybe it’s the zombie apocalypse video games I’ve been playing.
At any rate, I’ve got a water bath and a pressure canner ready and a box of pickling salt in the cupboard, a starter kit for the home preserver. All I need now is the produce.
You’ll find a lot of yield calculators and guides online trying to tell you how many plants and how much space you’ll need to grow enough food for the year, and they’re good to help with organization and planning, but yields are often dependent on the grower and the soil and other independent variables like the season’s weather.
To know what you can produce on your land, you need your own experience.
In my backyard beds, space is a premium, so I have to squeeze as much into about 50 square feet as I can without plants stealing sunlight or nutrients from one another.
The grid I use to map out plantings looks like a Tetris screen right now, but it takes consideration of three dimensions to keep the peace.
I’m planning to trellis my pole beans and cukes, so I have to make sure to keep them from casting a shadow over everything else. I’ll do this with trellis panels attached to the side of my beds farthest from the sun and with trellis arches spanning the beds. I’ll have more on their construction in a column later this season.
Another consideration is companion planting — which plants get along and which may suck nutrients away from or attract pests to neighbors. Most of my choices this year pair well, so it’s less of a concern for me.
In two more weeks, I’ll start the plants that need a head start — the tomatoes, onions, since I’m growing from seed and maybe a pepper plant or two. This year, I’m upgrading my nursery setup with some full-spectrum LED grow lights, which I’ve never used before.
After the last frost, I’ll put those plants in the ground and direct sow the other seeds.
Then the fun starts.