Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thinking About Spring

Spring is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year. On days like today, when it is cold and dreary, I love to start planning my garden for the coming spring.

You know, I always tell everyone that they should keep a pantry. But the reality is that you cannot store enough food to feed your family forever. The pantry was the stop-gap measure between the abundance of fall and the starvation time of winter when nothing could grown. The pantry is the bandaid  used until the wound heals, be that wound from winter, job-loss, economic collapse or Lord knows what else. It was never intended to carry you forever.

So if the pantry is not suppossed to take care of you indefinately, it stands to reason that it should be able to care for you until you learn alternative ideas for food growing and processing, herbal medicine, etc. With that being said, this is a very good time to start thinking about planning your garden.

I buy seeds every year, but I also save seeds from plants I have grown the previous year. I seldom grow anything - flowers or vegetables - that  is a hybrid. I make a real efforr to grow only open-pollinated seeds, so that I can save the seeds from theose plants for the next years gardens.  Hybrid seeds are "one time growers " - open pollinated seeds can be saved and grown year after year.

Seeds have become quite expensive over the past couple of years, and they will continue to do so. I buy some from catalogs, but I buy a lot of seeds locally. I am especially fond of buying open pollinated seeds at the end of the season, when the seeds are 1/2 off or less. Seeds are dated for 1 year, but they actually are fine to grow for a long time after that with some basic care. You can just put the extra seed packets in a ziploc and freeze them and they will last several years. I would not spend any money at all on the "survival seed kits" you might see on the internet. You can easily buy all the seeds you need for a nice, simple, basic vegetable garden with some extra flowers for $20 or less, if you pay attention to prices.

Before you start buying seeds, think about how much room you have to plant. Will you plant in the ground  or in raised beds or containers? What kinds of vegetables do you like? Tomaotes, cucumbers, beans, corn, peas are all good staple vegetables and are very easy to grow. Will you be supplementing your food bill or will you want to grow enough to help fill your pantry?

There are a lot of really great older books available that are very helpful in discovering how to set up a garden. One of the most helpful books I've ever read is an very old book, originally published in the 1940's entitled "The Have More Plan". This great old book has really stood the test of time, ushering thousands of beginning gardeners and homesteaders into the basics of self-sufficiency. I have created a link on the right side of this gae where you can click and download a free copy. So download it, print it out if you'd like, and get ready for some fun reading. Have a great day!

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