The Beginning of a Garden

I know.  It’s January 8.  In Illinois.  Why are we talking about gardening now???

If you’ve ever bought seeds from a catalog, you have probably already received at least half a dozen seed catalogs.  And that’s a low guess.  We had over a dozen before Christmas.  Eight showed up in the mail on ONE day!  This picture is all the catalogs we’ve received to date.  More will come, though most will be duplicates.  When we first started this adventure, we thought these people were nuts.  Seriously – we wouldn’t be planting till the end of May or June.  So why would we buy seeds NOW?

Then we started figuring it out.  We bought tomato, broccoli, cauliflower and pepper seeds in April.  Then in May we tilled the garden and pulled out the seed packets and read the directions:  “Start indoors 8 weeks (or 6 or 12 or something similar) before last frost date.”  Yikes!  That would have been February or March!  Then we’d go out to some place with a garden center and buy plants that have already been started.  Eight or twelve weeks ago.

So, now in January, we start looking at catalogs and making up our wish lists and then paring the list down to what we really want, need, and what we can afford.  This year, though, we aren’t buying as many seeds as usual.  Rarely do we plant all the seeds in the packets, plus some companies send a few free packets with an order, and we order more than we know we’ll plant, or end up overestimating how much space we have available to plant, plus we’ve been saving seeds from some of our plants the past 2 years.  So they’ve been accumulating for a few years.  After I pulled all those out (I had three 1-gallon ziploc bags full) and took inventory, I found that I really only needed to buy a few packets.

I’m going to plant a lot of peas this year – on all the fencing we grew squash and tomatoes on last year.  Only once have we grown enough peas to freeze any for the future.  This year I hope to change that.  So, though I have a bunch of pea seeds already, I don’t think I have enough to fill all my fences.  Oh, and 2 of those will have lima beans, and I have no lima bean seeds.  Also, once those come off the fencing I want to grow pole beans rather than bush beans.  I’m starting to feel too old to squat down forever sifting through bean plants looking for those beans.  I’d like to stand.  I have one or two packets of those, but that’s not enough.  I also want to give carrots one last try.  We can’t seem to grow it in our soil – too hard – even after a decade of enhancing the soil.  But I have 10 Earthboxes.  We’ve grown celery in them the past 2 years.  I tried carrots 3 years ago, but those didn’t go well.  Not their fault.  I had a 2-year-old that was helping me pick “weeds” when I wasn’t looking :(  He’s 6 now, and the youngest is going to be almost 4, so I think with some training, we can prevent a similar tragedy this year.  My plan is to have some of the Earthboxes in carrots and some celery.  The celery has done well in them, but 10 boxes’ worth is a bit much, since stalks can be snapped off like lettuce and allowed to grow new stalks.  If the carrots don’t work this year, I think I’ll give up on them permanently.  And, there are a few new varieties I just can’t say “no” to.  It’s SO hard!  So, I’ll buy a few extra and have them on-hand, in case of a weird crop failure, or…. something.