This winter was super rough in KC and it lasted longer than we have experienced in what feels like a very long time. But that doesn’t mean that we weren’t getting ready for spring gardening....
Next year’s garden always starts the fall before, when I sit back and read through my garden notes from the season to determine what worked well and what didn’t. This helps me figure out which plants I want to grow again next year. Not only do I want to know if a plant grew and produced well, but I also want to know if we actually ate the produce and liked it. Being married to an eater who isn’t particularly fond of vegetables has really encouraged me to selectively grow the things that we actually eat. Otherwise, I find that we end up wasting or giving away more than we actually use.
Then in December I usually sit down with the plant seed catalogs and graph paper and map out my garden for the next year, plan which plants I want to grow, and where they will go. I try to rotate crops to maintain soil health and discourage disease. This is probably my favorite part of gardening, since it feels like the most optimistic moment of the season. This unbridled optimism is usually what results in me starting too many plants each year. Which is also how I ended up selling plants.
In January, I start tomatoes and peppers so that they will be able to establish a robust root system before they are planted out in late April. I usually pot my tomato plants up at least 3 times before they are ready to be transplanted into the garden. Each time that the plants are potted up, I strip off the lower leaves and bury the plant up to the top. The plant will sprout new roots along the buried stem, which results in a plant with a robust root system. A large and healthy root system is particularly necessary for most heirloom tomatoes, since they are largely indeterminate plants which can grow up to 10 feet tall. My basement is basically just a large grow room for vegetables from January-April each year.
From January through March, I tend to the plant starts…potting them up, starting new rounds of plants and adding helpful organic amendments, like worm castings and bat guano. Then in March, the tomatoes get their final potting up to 7 inch pots so that they are ready to go to their forever gardens.
Then in March, I start getting the garden ready for planting. This starts with Digging out the irrigation equipment, tilling up the soil, adding amendments and making sure that I have everything we need to put plants and seeds in the ground. This year, KC’s weather has pushed back my regular planting schedule, so stay tuned as we gear up for sunnier days and carrot planting.