Gearing up for the Garden Gauntlet

I have always been someone who gardened in a few raised beds, pots, really whatever I could find and I have experienced mixed results.  For the first time I am going to take on a decent sized garden plot with no raised beds, and it is a little intimidating.

So far I have gotten organized with a planting schedule, denoting the intervals at which I plan to plant various vegetables, as well as the amount in each interval to try and guarantee a decent harvest all season long.  There are several opinions on what those intervals should be, so I am reading a bit more before finalizing my calendar, which will then be my daily guide as to what needs to be done in the garden with regards to fertilizing, watering, and planting.

My current task for the week is getting the small hoop house which was an area originally for young chickens moved closer to the garden plot.  After I get the structure secured and in the right spot I will be putting a table, trays, my soil blocker, watering cans, gardening tools, organic pest control/fungicide (e.g. neem oil), and other odds and ends that tend to get used up in the garden.  We are also going to create a larger soil block which fits a 2×2 soil block within it for plants that need to space to grow from a tutorial on YouTube.  (I will post pictures when it is completed!)  This is because soon we will be approaching the first indoor sowing of early plants, for our farm the earliest crop this spring will be leeks.

Next week it is my goal to purchase and integrate soil amendments into the soil after testing it to see what it is really lacking.  I know that it has a nice pH of 6.5, but it was struggling in a lot of the other categories such as potash, potassium, and nitrogen.  However, after a fall and winter of integrating goat manure, having chickens free ranging and spreading all kinds of scraps around the garden plot, I will test need to test again to see where things fall.

But my most daunting task is the garden plan itself.  I have contemplated using an online planner, but don’t want to pay for a subscription.  However, sitting down with a list of factoids about each plant, a ruler, and a very large eraser does not seem any more pleasant.  There are a lot of things to take into consideration.  How much spacing each plant requires, how long it should be in full sun, what kind of watering/irrigation system will work best, placement of trellises, crop rotations, etc.  So, at the end of the day I will likely just pay out for a subscription which incorporates a lot of this knowledge into the plan as you make it.

At the end of the day, the truth of the matter is that no matter how much I plan I may still fail miserably, but I do enjoy gardening at its core. It is great to plant things in the ground, work with the soil, watch seedlings sprout, and planting with little kids, and hopefully harvest some veggies.   I am only at the beginning of my gardening adventure and there will be many ups and downs, so I think I am just going to try and dot my i’s and cross my t’s and hopefully it will be a great gardening year.  I love taking Rose into the garden, this means some crushed seedlings, not getting a single bell pepper out of the garden, and tomatoes picked before they are ripe.  But she loves to be outside and it is good for her to realize that all of the food that we eat comes from somewhere and that it requires a lot of work, just as she is learning with the animals that we raise for meat.

As the Spring approaches I will do my best to keep you updated on our progress.  But I want to wish good luck to all of you in all of your gardening adventures, whether it is a raised bed, a pot on your patio, or a huge garden plot.  Have lots of fun, get dirty, and don’t fret too much if things don’t work out with your plants.  There is always next year.

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