January 3, 2011

Garden Goals

Since I'm starting vegetable plants for spring I've been thinking about my garden goals this year. After I stopped farming our land I had a few years of very small (tiny) gardens. Part of the problem was simply that I had to get another job so I didn't have time and energy to grow much food. However I think mostly I was just very sad. I had anticipated problems and obstacles in staring my small farm, but I did not anticipate freakish amounts of rain. 

But I'm all better now (I've stopped beating myself up over my failure... there is really nothing I can do about 90+ inches of rain in 9 months) and ready to approach the garden in a professional manner again. I don't plan to sell produce, although I've had a few people let me know that they'll buy any extras, but I do plan to get back to growing in a professional way. This means carefully scheduling seed starting, transplanting, direct seeding, etc. (so there are not large gaps in production), choosing varieties intentionally (less "oh this looks fun" and more "I know this tomato produces well in this area"), collecting data on the harvest (so that over time I can compare varietal performance, effectiveness of techniques, location, etc), cover cropping, and crop rotation (actually having a plan about where things go). A professional grower (as opposed to a casual gardener) has a plan, works the plan, keeps records and uses all that info to inform next year's plan.

My production goals for this year are simple:
  • Grow the tomatoes we need for the year. We eat a fair amount of canned tomatoes. I'd like to grow and can everything we need. Food storage is going to be a challenge.
  • We also eat a ton of canned chilies and pickled jalapenos. I'd like to grow and can our year's supply. 2010 was a great pepper growing year for me.
  • Beans! We are huge bean eaters. Grow, dry, and store our beans for the year.
  • Garlic. I grew great garlic in TN but I have not grown good garlic here. We go through 3 or 4 heads a week every week of the year. Lets call it a low 150 heads of garlic a year. 
  • Grow enough luffa to replace our purchased scrubbie pads.
  • Develop an effective rotation plan for the new flock of chickens in their fancy new mobile house.

Eventually I'd like to grow all our onions, parch corn, potatoes, and sweet potatoes as well. Since we live in such a mild climate we eat out of the garden all year. It's not critical that we have a winter store of food. However, the foods I've mentioned we use unseasonably as the basis for our meals which are otherwise filled with fresh garden produce.

What are your garden goals this year?


  1. I think you have some great garden goal. I have goals and basically they are grow enough for us to eat fresh and can (same as you!). I am still learning what works here and what doesn't - I know that will be ongoing. I hope to get my seeds started indoors at the right time this year - last year I was out of town and got a late start. That will be a big start!

  2. Thanks Emily! I'm going to be doing a seed starting post soon and then a planning post where I go into detail about how to plan out all your seedings and succession plantings for the whole year. Maybe those will help. I've actually already started my first round of Solanaceae (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatillos). I normally try to start them on Dec. 15 so I have good sized plants by March 15 (our average frost free day). This year I didn't start them until Jan. 1... that's the other reason I aim for Dec 15, because even if I'm late, I'll still have 10 or 8 week old plants, which are large enough :-)