New Year’s: The Perfect Time for Garden Planning

Garden PlanningYesterday, our sister site, Whole Fashioned Wellness, posted about the 10 Dangers of a Whole Foods Diet.  This post was actually a listing of the benefits that you and your family may find as you begin to incorporate more and more whole foods into your family’s eating plan.  Many find that once they make the leap to eating real food the gardening bug is the next to strike. This can be a very overwhelming endeavor for those that have grown up in a more urban area or just have never gardened before.

As a farm family, raising a large family garden or two just comes with the territory.  When our children were smaller, we did much less with a garden. This was partly because we needed less food than we do to feed basically 5 adults and one want-to-be and also because we have more hands to help. In lies one of the greatest sources of success for your family garden – getting the whole family involved.  Kids love to eat what they grow!

The winter months provide farmers and their families with some downtime from hauling hay and tending fields.  This downtime is not a long extended period of hibernation, but many times used for planning for things to happen in the Spring and Summer, repair equipment, and work on building projects.  The family garden is no exception.

We spent time this weekend in drafting some plans and would like to give you a sneak peak into how we approached this process.  Maybe it will be an inspiration to take your hand to the soil in providing healthy, nutrient dense foods for your family.

Steps to Creating your Garden Plan and Timeline:

  1.  Decide what you want to plant.  Generally, it is best to grow things that your family will use immediately or that you are comfortable in preserving through freezing, drying, or canning.
  2. Determine if you will purchase plants or start your seeds either directly in the ground or in a greenhouse.  Our family uses a greenhouse and will be expanding to a much larger one this year.  The directions that follow include that consideration.
  3. Identify the last projected frost date in your area.  The Farmer’s Almanac is a great resource for this type of information.
  4. Determine a source for your seeds or plants.  Many seed companies are already shipping seed at this time of the year in preparation for spring planting.  This is especially important if you are looking to plant heirloom varieties.
  5. Make a list of things you wish to grow directly in a tilled garden, in pots, and those that will do best in raised beds.
  6. After identifying what we will be planting and the projected last frost date, we start building our timeline.  Some of the things we record are:
    1. The projected last frost date
    2. Date for seeds to be started in the greenhouse by variety
    3. Date to sow seeds that will go directly in the ground
    4. Date to transplant greenhouse plants into the ground
    5. Date of anticipated beginning of harvest
    6. Dates of any construction or maintenance projects that need to be done
    7. Dates for fertilizing and tilling soil as needed
  7. Take a moment to enjoy that sense of satisfaction in becoming more independent in feeding your family incredibly wholesome, nutrient dense foods that are packed with flavor.

I have to admit that I do sometimes adjust recommended dates for planting after seeing what things will be harvesting all at the same time.  After all, once your harvest is brought in only part of the work is done.  Stay tuned for updates on our family garden and helpful tips along the way.

We are excited to share that we will be adding herbs to our gardens this year.  There will be both culinary and medicinal herbs available for sale as plants, in dried form, and already prepared tinctures through our sister site, Whole Fashioned Wellness.

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