It happens each year. Just as you begin to itch with cabin fever, you open the mail box to find the first harbingers of Spring. Seed Catalogs! Perhaps you spirit them away to enjoy them alone for a bit. Perhaps you fly into the house waving them for all to see. Either way, it is very likely you’ll thumb through time and again, dreaming of warm soil between your fingers and toes, imagining the culinary possibilities. If you’re like my husband you’ll make a long list of everything you’ll grow this year. If you’re like my husband it will be a too-long list.
We’ve been gardening on our farm for two years. Both of them our harvest was impeded by our scattered interests resulting in too much variety in too small a space, and needing too wide an array of conditions. We simply tried to do too much (and at our busiest time of year, professionally) to do any of it very well. We still got vegetables for our table and a few to share, but with a bit more narrowing we could have had much more. Since our goal is to have vegetables for the table, storage food for winter, and eventually a long term pantry, we need to tighten things up this year.
I’ve decided that this year we’ll keep exotics to a minimum. I’m not completely against trying new things, mind you. It’s just that if I’m going to spend time, energy and resources to grow something, I need to know my family will eat it. Therefore I’ll be taking a look in the cupboards and freezer to get an idea which veggies we already eat.
Another thing I’ll be considering is growing conditions. By minimizing the variety of growing conditions I need to provide, I can greatly streamline my efforts and make things easier during this busy time. It would be great if I can just water twenty minutes morning and evening, pull some weeds, and reap what I’ve sown. I’m not much of a dreamer am I? I’ve realized that I need to grow plants that can tolerate a little…um, shall we call it independence? Yes, that sounds much better than neglect.
The last thing I’ll consider is storability. Since we are busy parents, and much of what we grow will need to be pressure canned or dehydrated, I’d like to grow some crops which do not require lengthy processing for storage. These are things such as potatoes and dried beans which, once properly cured, are pantry stable from several months up to many years.
Here is my list so far:
Squash, summer and winter
This list might look very different than my husband’s list, so we’ll probably meet somewhere in the middle.
What will you grow this season?