Welcome to Bepa's Garden!
This blog is about organic gardening, healthy eating and healthy living.
Each month I will be posting Garden To-Do Lists, Tips & Techniques, Garden Project Plans, Photos from the Garden, Recipes and Book Reviews.
I hope you enjoy reading and I hope I can inspire others to start a backyard garden!
Happy Gardening!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spring is right around the corner!

It's almost time to start seeds for this years garden so here are some useful tools to help ease the frustration and help you become more organized.

It hasn't been much of a winter so far this year, with above normal temperatures and barely any snow, but spring is still right around the corner and it will soon be time to start those seeds for this year's garden.

Each year I make a vow to try and plan ahead and become more organized, but I always seem to fall behind schedule. I end up ordering seeds too late or I don't have all my supplies on hand causing the plants to not be ready on time to set out on their proper dates. I usually end up starting way too many seeds and the greenhouse becomes over-crowded and difficult to work in. The task of watering, potting up and transplanting becomes daunting and stressful and I always end up with more plants than I can fit into the beds.
What worked for me ...
Last season I took some steps to prepare myself for this years planting. When I ordered my seeds last spring I only ordered organic, non-hybrid and heirloom seed with the intention of saving seeds from the harvest for the following season. I was able to successfully save several different varieties of peppers and lettuce. I ended up with many leftover seeds that are still viable and in December I ordered some other varieties that I didn't have on hand, so this year I didn't need to order any more.

I have found that the best method for me to start seeds is in soil blocks. I seem to get the best germination rates using this method and it is easier for me to manage the seedlings. I normally order special soil block mix, but last year I made my own using the compost I prepared myself. With the wide spread of plant diseases like blight, I am taking steps to avoid introducing any outside elements into the garden.

Normally I choose what crops to grow by how appealing they look in the catalogs and without too much consideration into how much we will actually eat. One year I grew about 300 scallions that I started from seed! Although I love scallions my family can't possibly eat that many and they ended up taking up valuable space in the garden. Making a list of what vegetables we normally eat and what I have had success growing gave me a comprehensive list of what crops I should grow. Last year I started using the bio intensive planting method - double dug beds to let the plants roots grow deeper requiring less horizontal space for each plat to grow. By planting the plants closer their leaves create a canopy that block out weeds and allows the soil to retain moisture. By using this method I was able spend less time watering and weeding!

A useful tool I discovered is the seed starting calculator available on Johnny's Selected Seeds website. You enter the frost free date for your area, which you can find here. The form calculates the proper seed starting date for each crop and also tells you the safe time to set out plants. There are several other interactive tools available that you can download:
  • Seed Calculator
  • Target Harvest Date Calculator
  • Fall Planting Calculator
  • Caterpillar Tunnel Worksheet
  • Succession Planting Calculator
There is also a growers library where you can find growing guides for vegetables, flowers and herbs.

I have also created my own growing database where I can track what I grow, enter seed starting dates, crop growing information, document each crop, include pictures, keep important growing information, view and print reports and print plant labels. I have tried using written garden journals in the past, but I have found it much easier to have all the information on one place.

Gardening doesn't have to be overwhelming and with a little planning and the help of the useful tools available from Johnny's Seeds you can tackle the growing season head on. Print your seed starting calculator today and get start planning your garden!