Garden planning season begins

VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

January is the traditional time of year to peruse seed catalogs, dream about new varieties to try, and begin planning the garden layout.

I've started placing most of my seed orders in the fall after seeing the challenges of 2020, but January is still a good time to review what you have available, what still needs to be ordered, where and how you will plant it, when you will start any inside planting, and so on.

The big thing I need to decide this year is when I will start the large numbers of tomato seeds of many cool-weather varieties. Too soon and they may die or get too large before last frost lets me put them in the ground, but too late and they will be small and not well-established when transplanted outside.


  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,519 admin

    I already had one order come in, but I'm still waiting for my most favorite garden seed catalog to come in. I could browse it online already, but paper is much better for dog-earing & marking. 😄

    I understand about the iffy parts of starting tomatoes. That one gets to me every year. I have all my seeds written down by start dates in a chart I made, but the weather doesn't go by charts. It does its own thing.

    I do want to plant some things quite a bit earlier outside this year if the weather let's me. I could have had a whole good week of early growing last spring, but I got nervous & chickened out.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,377 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I bought seeds in the fall this year. I kinda went a little crazy and have so many.

    I want to plant outside earlier this year too, but every year lately we have one last frost which is later than the year before.

    This year I want to plant more peppers and a few less tomatoes. Last year I planted a couple tomatoes I'd gotten from a grower's outlet (same place I got my peppers) and then later after several tries was able to plant the tomatoes I started from seeds. I ended up with way too many tomatoes.

    I know peppers are hard to start but I got a small hydroponic grower for my birthday that I'm going to try to start them in. I've been successful at starting broccoli and different greens in it and transplanting them outside after the freezing temps killed my other plants.

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I already have most of my seeds. I also want to plant early this year. I'm struggling to decide what plants are the priority this year. I don't have the space to grow everything that I want to grow at least not in the quantities I would like. I usually lean towards either mostly stuff for eating fresh or mostly stuff that can get us through the winter by preserving. I want to try to find more of a balance this year.

  • water2world
    water2world Posts: 1,156 ✭✭✭✭

    I could look at seed catalogs and never get anything else done!! Contemplating a raised key hole garden this year. Has anyone tried this for planting seeds?

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @kbmbillups1 I have tried peppers several times but never got a good yield. They are hard to start, requiring a lot of heat in the germinating and early sprouting stage, and even if the plants appear healthy when you set them out, it's common to get few fruits per plant.

    I've mostly given up on them. I think they need a hotter climate with more sun. The only type of pepper that gave me a half-decent yield was a cayenne plant starter that I bought locally.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @water2world What problem are you trying to solve with the raised keyhole garden? We can probably make better suggestions if we understand what you are trying to achieve.

    Here, the hard clay soil holds an inch or more of standing water in spring or after a hard rain, so some kind of raised something is almost required.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Michelle D No gardener ever has as much space as desired. :-)

    One option is laid out in The Family Garden Plan by Melissa Norris. She suggests that you track what you eat over the course of a year, then plan a garden to grow the amount of each vegetable ingredient that you expect to use.

    Even if you don't have precise records from previous years, you probably have a pretty good estimate of what you've eaten during a typical week or month. Start from that and calculate what you need.

    Personally, I would like to grow a large fraction of the vegetables that we eat, but our garden is just not large enough, and our wet clay soil is poor unless drastically improved. So I have to make judgements every year, trading off quantity, variety, equivalent cost if purchased, and experimentation.

    If I could double or triple my garden square footage, I could get much closer to the ideal, but it would be expensive.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    I have already had an order for elderberries come in. I'm going to have to pot them up really soon. They are small starts so I don't want to plant them out in the garden. They get devoured immediately.

    I have received two catalogs already too: Baker creek and Southern Exposure.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,116 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I ordered 3 types of elderberry seeds and they already came in. Got emails saying most of the other seeds I ordered have come in and are waiting for me at the post office. Can't wait to go get them. Then I have to wait awhile before I can even consider planting anything. We can't put anything in the ground here until Memorial day.

  • Megan Venturella
    Megan Venturella Posts: 678 ✭✭✭✭

    I loved reading through people’s plans. I spent my morning developing a seed sowing plan for the spring and summer based off of what I did last year, extension recommendations, and a local nursery’s guidelines. I have purchased every seed known to man, so instead of perusing catalogs I went through my seed stash and got rid of varieties I didn’t love to make more room for varieties that did well or new things I want to try.

    I’m starting some seeds a little later than usual. I always rush the summer plants because I miss them so much and that means overcrowding when my spring plants are still just finishing. So, more accurately, I guess I’m trying to start my spring plants earlier and delay my summer starts a wee bit. We’ll see how it works out!

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy I do have Melissa's book. I used it the last several years. These past few months the things my family wants to eat most seems to have changed. I think it is because I have been weeding out more and more processed food. Our tastes are changing. I asked the family what they want me to grow this year. I got 3 answers, corn, salad and salsa lol. I think have space for that.