This is always an exciting time for me. February is the time I plan the vegetable garden for the next year as well as any larger projects I plan to take on for the year. For the last two years, I haven’t added much to the garden space because I was busy changing jobs and finishing graduate school. But this year I plan to add a grape arbor to the home fruiting area…more on that later as plans develop 🙂
Below is the tentative plan for the crops in the potager. I rotate crops around the three beds to maintain soil health and vitality and to avoid plant pathogens. I also let all of the beds go fallow for the winter rather than trying to maintain a winter garden. This ended up being a very good decision as we have had a brutal winter.
As you can see I have the usual suspects of root crops, vines, and plants. However, I am switching up the placement of peas, beans and other climbing vines. I am putting the climbing trellises in the northwest corners of two of the beds for maximum exposure to sunlight….these corners get sun all day and into the evening because of the placement of my land so this will be the best situation for those plants without their growth inhibiting other plants in the garden.
I am also going to plant a patch of Burgundy Amaranth…this delightful plant is a treat for the eye as well as a productive grain…Amaranth can be harvested, cooked like wheatberries or even popped like corn…I am excited to try it!
While about half of the garden crops are directly sewn into the soil (carrots, turnips, beets, radishes, chard/spinach); the other half are above ground crops that do better transplanted into the garden as seedlings. Those plants are quite expensive at the nursery so I prefer to use organic seeds and start them myself. That way I save money and have better control over the health of the plant.
This year I am planting annual culinary herbs like basil, oregano, dill and parsley in the beds with the vegetables to maximize space and take advantage of some companion planting properties of these herbs. In addition, I am planting Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, tomatoes and summer squash in the potager proper. This year, for the first time, I am going to move things like belle peppers to the front yard herb and flower bed to tuck them in a place that gets full sun. I am also going to buy a couple of eggplant seedlings and plant them in the perennial border.
Finally, I am going to add two elderberry bushes to the perennial border for their beauty and to hopefully harvest berries for medicinal wine and syrup to get me through the cold and flu seasons to come!
Starting seeds is an easy task, I am using a biodegradable pots with fresh soil, hand made plant markers, a home heating pad and a sunny, southern facing window. These plants hopefully will be large enough to transplant directly in the garden come the second week of May!
It is time to dream of spring and to get your hands at least a little dirty!