It turns out that planning really might be the answer to everything. A few months ago I sat down with Steve Solomon’s Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades and penciled out a detailed plan for my vegetable garden. I’ve always been rather casual about gardening, deciding what to plant a day or so before I tilled the soil, based mostly on whatever whims struck me at the plant store.
At first Solomon’s advice struck me as extraordinarily finicky. But he owned Territorial Seed Company for years, where he dedicated himself to testing seeds, fertilization methods, and crop rotations for the maritime Northwest region. And me? I’ve had varied (read: not much) success with gardening over the years. So I decided to follow the expert’s advice.
Now I understand why some of my past gardens failed so miserably. While drafting my plan, I read about each vegetable I wanted to plant, when and how it should go in the soil, and what conditions would work best for it. It was a lot of work. But having a plan has made the entire process entirely less stressful. I can’t believe I ever planted a garden without one.
After reading Solomon’s book, I also decided to buy all of my seeds from Territorial this year. They’re located just twenty miles away from where I live, so not only am I supporting a local business, but I know that those seeds have been extensively tested to grow well in conditions exactly like those in my backyard.
So I’m hoping this year may be a huge breakthrough year for my vegetable garden, and I’m excited about it. Oddly several years ago, when my husband and I lived in Colorado we grew a wonderfully productive vegetable garden with no plans or research whatsoever in a climate and altitude that’s not quite as conducive to growing food as this one. I think that experience deceived me into thinking that growing vegetables is intuitive. Now I’m more inclined to think our success was first-timer’s luck.
I am already dealing with one challenge. We finally got the run built for our chickens. You can see my husband’s excellent handiwork here. (My mom pointed out that the gigantic advertisement for Coca Cola does not exactly go with the urban homesteading theme. She does have a point, doesn’t she?)
So I’m hoping that the chickens will not annihilate my precious broccoli this year. But there have been a couple of other creatures lurking in the garden, and they’re proving to be more difficult to deter.
How’s your garden growing this spring?