Monday, February 25, 2013

Garden Planning - Step 2 - Buying Seed

Knowing how much to plant each year is the hardest step in garden planning, I think.  As far as I can tell, no matter how I choose to calculate amounts, I'm going to get them wrong. That said, I still think it's better to work on this step and at least have an idea, rather than to just forge ahead blindly.  After all, neither a truckload of zucchini nor a spoonful of peas will do me much good.

I started out by taking my initial list from Step 1 and considering how much we eat of each.  This isn't an exact science, and some calculations will be less brain twisting easier than others. 

One way to figure amounts is to determine how many times a week your family eats a vegetable, multiply that by the number of people in your family, then by 52 weeks a year to determine your annual consumption in servings.  It's easy enough to Google to find out how many servings are in a pound of that particular vegetable, but if you can find even two websites that remotely agree on how many pounds per plant that vegetable will yield, please send them to me, because I couldn't find them.

Another way to plan is to remember how much you planted last year.  Every year we plant about 8 square feet of lettuce.  We don't plant it in rows, we just broadcast the seeds.  Every year I'm certain it won't be enough to satisfy those early spring cravings for fresh salads.  Every year it ends up being too much and bolting and/or getting bitter before we can eat it all.  Every year the excess becomes cheap filler for the compost pile.  In an odd way, this works for us, so why fix what isn't broken?

So this is how I proceeded, best-guessing my way through the roster of things we'd like to grow, and ultimately moving a few more things off the planting list and onto the purchasing list.  Once this list was finalized, Shane and I compared it with the seeds we already have on hand and know are good, then we ordered the rest. 

At this point in our gardening experience, I don't feel qualified to recommend specific varieties or seed sources. I will tell you that most of the seeds we already have on hand came from Hometown Seeds in a promo pack I received a few years ago.  Our seed potatoes were gifted to us (thanks, Melinda!).  We ordered the rest of what we needed from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, both because they sell non-GMO seeds and because they are located in our home state.  We have just a few things left to buy; we'll probably get those from local nurseries.  You'll have to do your own research and make the decisions that are best for your family.

Next up...I plan the layout of the garden while I wait for the snow to melt.

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