Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy New Year!

I hope all of you had a happy and safe new year we at the Skye project had a blast. It was as much fun working on the project as it was distributing for the first time one of the unique products of the project. As some of you may have heard we chose to do something fun with one of our crops, we turned our fig harvest into Fig wine! We had to invent an entirely new recipe and use some interesting ingredients to make what turned out to be an incredibly elegant desert wine. So here we are in 2013, what will the year bring, well stay tuned and fined out.

Today’s topic of focus is early planning; as we start a new year the door is wide open for garden opportunities. The first aspect of this comes in the form of the seed catalog; these paperback books often arrive with great collections of old time garden favorites as well as the best and newest varieties of your preferred plants. In fact the temptations offered in any given seed catalog are enough to drive even veteran gardeners to distraction with the temptation to order much more then you can handle.

My trick for handing these catalogs and the temptation to buy more then I have space to maintain is a simple one. The first thing I do is go through each of the catalogs marking off Items I like with a highlighter or marker and dog ear the pages these selections are on. I then put the catalogs away for a full week and return to them and circle the items I still want and have the space to take care of. Right after that I set the catalog aside for another week, at the end of this time period which will be one week shy of the end of January I pick what still is attractive with a very limited number of extras and place the order for my seeds for the year.

In the interim I might point out for those of you just starting a garden; now is the time to order seed catalogs if you have not done so already. Generally for a typical production oriented garden you want to have access to the seed suppliers as early as possible, so that way you can be prepared for the big February rush. The February rush is the start of the seed planting season. Generally most gardeners start their warm season plants between the first and second weeks of February if they have the facilities and materials to make the lead time count.

As a final thought on ordering from seed catalogs, they sell a lot of stuff, including seed supplies and associated garden equipment of many shapes, sizes and skill levels. All of this stuff is generally very useful and worth considering however you should always consider the amount of experience you have with gardening in relation to what you might order. Some tools look great on paper but may not be very effective for your particular situation. Some seed may not be well suited for your climate or may require special care that you lack the ability to provide*. Also some equipment such as seed starting or hydroculture kits may be above your comfort or skill levels and may take up too much space. You have to consider carefully what you are being offered and work your way up slowly towards a point at which you feel capable and skilled enough to sink your hard-earned cash into higher skill level supplies and materials. 

With all of that said this concludes the first episode of Lost in the Farmer's Market for 2013. Next week I'll be covering the next step in garden preparation, specifically the basics of measuring your gardening area. I hope you have found the information  in today's post useful and hopefully we'll see you back here next week.

*A prime example comes from our own attempts to grow certain types of coneflower and pyrethrum chrysanthemum. The seeds of both require specific stratification and acid treatments to have any reasonable germination. The same could be said for (Asclepias tuberosum) Milkweed, which turns out to not be fond of being transplanted and takes years to establish.

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