If you love gardening and being outside like I do just because it’s cold and snowy doesn’t mean you quit thinking about your garden. I have to say last year was not my shining year for my garden. I seemed to have more of my share of dismal “green thumb” failures. I am determined to be prepared this year. Or at least better then I was last year! I’ve been thinking about how to go about being better prepared to have a beautiful and bountiful garden and I thought maybe it might offer someone else a helpful tip or two! Growing your own garden can be really fun and with the uncertainty of our food safety these days it is becoming more of an important skill to learn! Here’s a few of the things I’m going to do to get ready.
Know your enemies well…
Let me tell you, I had a few enemies last year when it came to my healthy production of bountiful veggies and fruits. Because I try to go about gardening the organic way sometimes it takes a little more creativity to deal with pests! My biggest enemy last year was this little nasty bug we call the vine borer. Every single plant that remotely resembles having a vine was totally destroyed by this bug. My melons and squash met an early demise which happens to be two of my favorites. I was spraying my plants religiously with Neem oil last year and still they died! Then after losing nearly every plant I had I realized that I was using a Neem that wasn’t as effective. Lesson learned and mental Note #1 FIND AND LOCATE A SUITABLE REPLACEMENT FOR PEST CONTROL THAT DIDN’T WORK LAST YEAR. I will be ready and waiting for an arsenal when that vine borer rears its ugly head next year!
Another issue I had was going outside one morning and my beans being eaten down to the ground. I then noticed this happening in my raised bed which is very close to the house. I had never seen deer come that close up to the house and one morning I caught Peter Cottontail merrily hopping away from my raised bed with a full belly. He was a fat rascal too. I wonder why? Note #2 CHECK THAT YOU HAVE ADEQUATE FENCING OR LARGER PEST CONTROL ALTERNATIVES. There are humane traps that you can set to catch the garden eating animals and move them to another location far, far away to a distant land, away from your beans! When I planted my Fall garden in that same bed I noticed him visiting again so I put a simple little piece of chicken wire around the bed and he seemed to get the message.
Don’t forget your fruit trees…..
Make sure that you check the spray schedule for any fruit trees that you have because usually the first spray time is around February. I use Neem oil to spray my fruit trees as well but will be taking this time to also look up some other organic alternatives. Note #3 Spray fruit trees with organic spray for fungus and pests that may be lying dormant.
Prune your fruit trees in the winter. Pruning in the winter is a good time because the tree is dormant so it is much easier to see the limbs. Generally the wounds where the limbs are cut are not opened too long until the springtime brings aggressive new growth and also bugs are not as bad which could cause damage to newly pruned trees. Note #4 Prune any trees that need it.
Order and start your seeds……..
Usually at this time of year the heirloom seed catalogs start pouring in because they know gardeners are dreaming and ready to get started. Prime seed starting time is usually mid February so I plan what I will grown and order my seeds in January. I am trying to work towards saving my own seed to have my own supplies on hand. That’s the beauty of heirloom seeds It’s nearly impossible to get produce from a saved hybrid seed. Buy heirlooms. Start your seeds in small pots in mid February. I will chronicle my seed starting when I get them going and share more in another post. Note #5 Buy or gather your seeds and get ready to start them in February.
It’s also a great time to draw or plan out what you will plant where and any new plans for new garden beds that will go in with supply lists and prices. All of this is great to do in the cold winter months when you can’t get out into the dirt but you are still working towards having a great garden in the spring! Note #6 Diagram and plan out any garden beds you will be installing. Research and learn about any new gardening practices you will be trying this year.
Hopefully that helped you to think about a few things to do to have a healthy garden this year. Time for me to get busy planning!