Winter downtime

Can you feel it?  Spring is coming!  Yeah, my father-in-law used to tell me I was crazy too.  But no, seriously, now is the time to be thinking about Spring.  If you don’t start planning now, you’ll be way behind time May rolls around!

I have finally come out of recovery mode following Christmas and New Year’s and now I am ready to move on to bigger and better things.  The seed catalogs are pouring in and I have a stack nearly a 1/2 foot high that I have barely had time to go through.  But before I get all starry eyed and overwhelm myself with endless gardening possibilities (and monetary impossibilities), I better sit down and take stock of what I want and need to plant and what I already have in my seed stash.

January is the time for getting your seed orders in.  If you plan to start your own plants like broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers and bedding/container flowers, February and March will be here before you know it.  I am also hearing a lot of buzz this year about getting those seed orders in early because of an anticipated high demand.  There are many newcomers to home gardening now because of rising food costs, health-consciousness regarding how our food is grown and environmental concerns over how far out-of-season crops are shipped.  If you procrastinate too long, you may have difficulty finding the varieties you want.

I am currently finalizing what all I want to plant and consulting my West Virginia University ag extension service gardening calendar for indoor/outdoor planting times.  Next I will consider the layout of my 2500 square foot garden.  This year I plan to do a variation on the traditional row system and divide my garden into 4 sections, which will make it easier for me to manage my crop rotation for disease prevention.  One quadrant I plan to plant entirely with June-bearing strawberries.  The other 3 will be rotated with vegetable crops.

One thing I took note of last year as I did more canning than ever before was that I really need to examine my canning recipes and plant for all the ingredients involved.  At $2.89 for a seasoning packet, it becomes really costly to can 40 quarts of spaghetti sauce.  I can easily grow all the herbs I need if I plan for them ahead of time.

If it weren’t for full color garden catalogs, I do believe I would lose my mind on these gray January days. These are a few of my favorite catalogs with links to their websites to receive a free catalog in the mail.

Well, I just happened to look out my window and spotted a male blue bird on my curly willow. A definite sign that Spring is on its way! As I watch the cold, drizzling rain coming down outside there is nothing more uplifting than dreaming of the upcoming garden season and the lush abundance of things I plan to grow. I can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt!

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