Guest Post By Tammy Trayer, Trayer Wilderness
I love sitting by my wood stove during the winter months preparing for my garden. I organize my seeds, layout my garden on graph paper and utilize a now faithful tool called the Garden Notebook by Angi Schneider. The Garden Notebook is a printable e-book which allows you to track your garden year after year. Keeping notes of your garden each year can be extremely helpful moving forward in many ways.
Being able to record how much you produced at the end of the year based on how much you planted will aid you in determining if you need to plant more for the following year to fill your pantry shelves. Documenting how you got rid of certain pests and what worked best for your soil is also helpful.
Another book you may find extremely useful is The Art of Gardening by Susan Vinskofski. This book could be a tremendous help to you in working with your soil as well as the Back To Eden film which can be found at BackToEdenFilm.com.
Did you know you can look up your hardiness rating and zone for your area at http://garden.org/zipzone? Knowing your hardiness rating and zone can help you to decide which seeds will work best for your area and when it is best to plant your varying seeds. Purchasing heirloom seeds is important as well. An heirloom seed is a hardy seed that has stood the test of time, has no GMO’s and can be saved for the following year. Here are some examples of some of the seed companies that I purchase from: Seeds from Generations, Mike Gardener’s Seeds of the Month, Good Seeds, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Annie’s Heirloom Seeds, Rare Seeds Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Territorial Seed Company, Berlin Seeds, Seeds of Change, and Seed Saver’s Exchange.
Here is a great tool that I have found useful in tracking my planting times based on my zone and last frost date.
Something else you should give some major consideration to when you are getting prepared for your garden is companion planting. To ensure that you have a bountiful harvest you want to be sure you are planting your plants wisely where they will flourish because not all plants do well side by side.
Vertical planting is something else you may choose to consider. I intend to utilize vertical planting both in my raised beds in my garden and in my greenhouse to provide even more planting space.
One of the reasons I love being able to pre-plan my garden during the winter months is because it is a much slower time for us and this provides me with more time to research all the things I would like to accomplish and overall allows me to be much more prepared for the season.
Here in Idaho, we have an extremely short season so being prepared and even ahead of the game is important. Getting your seeds started early enough is key when you have a short season and being able to cover your plants toward the end of the season will eliminate you losing your valuable bounty to frost or even snow in our area.
If you are new to gardening, don’t be afraid to talk to your local gardeners and farmers for planting tips. If you don’t have space to plant a garden consider checking with your county to see if there are any community gardens to which you can purchase or barter space. If you don’t have such options in your area you could check with friends or locals with acreage to see if they would be willing to allow you to use a small space to grow a garden and work out some sort of a deal.
You can also easily plant your garden in large pots on your patios, in your flower beds and even on your apartment balcony. Don’t allow a small space to stop you. It is such a rewarding feeling to be able to work your soil, plant your seeds, watch them grow, and to harvest your wholesome edibles.
Another very rewarding aspect of gardening is sharing it with a child. If you have children or grandchildren it is an amazing skill for them to learn and it is always helpful to have extra hands.
I encourage you to embrace gardening this year, if for nothing else, but to put some very wholesome food on your table. Gardening is also a very relaxing and healthy thing to do.
My two favorite things on our homestead aside from our animals is gardening and canning. I love to have full canning shelves at the end of our season.
Tammy Trayer is a Featured Contributor for PREPARE Magazine. She is a freelance writer, soon to be author, radio show host, web designer specializing in the outdoors, entrepreneur, pioneer, avid hunter, outdoorswoman, homesteader, homeschool mother and wife. She, her husband & Mountain Man of her dreams and family live traditionally off-grid and enjoy educating on autism, gluten free and dairy free cooking, self-reliance, wilderness survival, natural health, gardening and so much more. Find out more about Tammy and her journeys at: http://www.TrayerWilderness.com