It’s the middle of winter here in the U.P. We have a bunch of snow, and more on the way today. Typically this time of year I am planning my garden, but I was way ahead of the game this time, and actually drew up plans in the late summer/early fall of last year. I was taking a look at what had worked, what I was tired of picking, what things we didn’t want to grow again this coming year. Because last year was such a mess trying to get seeds (with Covid lockdowns, and everyone wanting to grow a garden suddenly, seed companies were out of things – I had to order from 5 different places to get all the varieties I wanted), I just stocked up in the fall. So I really don’t need to get any new seeds this year. I might add a couple things as spring gets here. We’ll see.
Here you can see my snowy cottage garden as it looked this morning: (We are getting a bunch more snow as I type this).
I started my onions in January – they are doing pretty well. I am growing a large yellow variety called Ailsa Craig. I am on an ongoing quest to get really big onions. Last year I had some get to a decent size, like a small baseball size, but not the full size they could have gotten. We just recently used up the end of my saved onion stash, and we were down to a lot of tiny 1-inch onions at the end. I am hoping to increase the amount of large onions I grow, and hopefully get less smaller ones. Even if that means growing less onions, so be it. Besides those large onions, I’m also growing leeks, green onions, and shallots from seeds. I also started some red onions – the seeds are from year before last, so they are not as viable as I’d like, but I got some to sprout. Onion seeds only last about a year or so – a lot of other seeds are viable for longer. I have been fertilizing my onion sprouts this year – something I read about this winter. I’m hoping that I will have close to pencil-width onions ready to go into the ground by April or May (probably May but a girl can hope for an April warm-up).
I planned this year’s gardens last fall, just drawing up a plan on a couple pieces of paper. I did go through all my seeds this fall, and I made a big spreadsheet so I know what I have to work with. I then had to decide what to NOT grow this year. I tend to want to just grow it all – I am using some restraint and only using about half my seed varieties for this coming year. Below are my plans I drew up:
As you can see, I’ve changed things a little bit here and there – there are some scribbles where I made revisions, but going in I knew a few things we’d do differently this year. We had too many winter squash last year, and I have frozen a lot of them. I fed extras to the deer before they could go bad on us (and because we got really sick of squash). I won’t be growing any winter squash. I’m growing 2 plants of cucumbers (2 varieties, one plant of each). I’m only growing 12 tomato plants total! (I had over 24 last year). We still have a lot of frozen tomatoes. They are good but we were a bit overrun in the fall and I got really tired of harvesting them. The only problem with planning is you never know what the weather in the summer will be like. I hope we have a nice hot summer and those 12 tomato plants actually produce as well as they did last year.
I took the seeds that I decided to grow this year, and set up groups (all rubber-banded together) in terms of when they get started and where – so I have a big group of “start inside in March” that will get started around the first official day of spring. I have a few types of seeds in the fridge cold-stratifying, those all will get started in March – those include two types of Milkweed/butterfly weed. I’d like to get some established in my yard for the Monarch butterflies. I also have some sets of “Start outside” for as soon as the snow is gone and I can get into the soil, and “start outside May/June” for after the last frost (mid-late may, depending on who you ask). I ordered a couple of things that should be coming this spring – Ginger for sprouting (probably coming late March) and also more Strawberry plants – I think those come in April or May.
I’m excited for this year’s upcoming garden. For now I am just looking out the window at our snowy yard and dreaming of spring.