Monday, March 6, 2017
Hurry Up ... and Wait
This time of year is one of my favorites. It's also a time of impatient waiting. In my Army days, this would be the "hurry up and wait" phase.
It's spring. Yes, even in spite of the snow squalls the other day and the frigid temperatures for the past three, it's spring. The snow banks are shrinking. The sky is sapphire blue and clear. The sap is running. The chickens are starting to lay more eggs each day. The wild birds are checking out the birdhouses to see if they'll make a suitable nesting place. We even saw a Robin the other day.
But it's still too early (and too cold, and there's still too much snow on the ground) to really start our spring chores, and so we're waiting, but also planning.
I submitted my chick order to the feed store this weekend. We're planning to raise a few dozen meat birds this season and I've ordered four more laying hens (two Easter Eggers and two Buckeyes - which will be a new breed for us).
It's also time to start planning my garden for the year.
The last two summers my garden has really suffered. Let's just say that my gardening duties were stretched too thin by a commitment I allowed myself to accept, and the result was that I ended up neglecting ALL of my gardens - even the ones right outside my door.
One of my problems, always, is that I make a plan, and then, I allow myself to deviate from the plan - for lots of reasons. I love garden volunteers, but they're also a problem, because when they're small enough to control, I often don't know what it is, and by the time I figure it out, the volunteer is not something I would have planted, because I don't know how to fully utilize it, but it's dominating my very limited garden space.
So, that's actually part of my plan this year - eliminate volunteers in my vegetable garden spaces (they will be freely accepted and embraced throughout the rest of the yard).
The second big switch in my plan this year is that I will only grow a very finite variety of plants - things that can be stored and that we eat a lot of throughout the winter. While I would love to have a garden full of color and variety, the fact is that I have a very limited space, and I have, yet, to make the best use of it. This year I am shooting for the biggest ROI that I can get by narrowing the number of crops I will plant.
The short list is: potatoes (grown in strawbales); tomatoes (grown in strawbales); peppers (grown in strawbales); cabbage (in raised beds); garlic (already in the ground); carrots (in containers); beets (in containers); and lettuces (in containers).
I'll also grow lots of herbs, as usual, and I want to add some more flowers. The herbs and flowers are good companions (like calendula and nasturtiums grow well with tomatoes; rosemary and thyme grow well with cabbage; and marigolds grow well with potatoes).
I'll seed some summer squash and some zucchini in the front rock bed where the mint has taken over, and perhaps under the Granny Smith apple tree ... also where the mint has taken over. I'll be happy if some grows, but not disappointed if the crop fails, because my primary focus will be on the seven plants listed above.
I have several different companion charts saved to my computer and in books I have, but I think I like this one best for its simplicity. All of the foods I'm planning to grow are listed - along with other plants that make them happy, and it will be a huge help to me when I go plant and seed shopping.
In fact, I think I'll put a copy of it in my bag so that on those, occasional, times when we're out and we decide, on a whim, to stop at the nursery, I can keep myself focused on what I want to grow rather than being overwhelmed and dazzled by all of the awesome plants available (and bringing home lots of plants I have no space or time for).
We have half a dozen projects out in the yard this summer, including new rabbit hutches that will need to be built, finishing the woodshed Deus Ex Machina started in the fall, hopefully building a tiny greenhouse/glorified cold frame out of reclaimed doors and windows, a new compost bin, and repairing/replacing the fence.
It's going to be a busy summer. Good busy.
Now, I just need to hurry up and wait for the snow to melt and the fun to commence.