Our 2014 Garden: The Beginning

With gardening, my goal is to get a little better at it each year. I think we’ve come a long way since our first summer in this house, when we just let everything in the yard do what it did until we figured out what were legitimate plants and what were weeds.

Last year, my garden plan involved ordering a shit-ton of seeds, starting them, and planting them outside as soon as the weather allowed, which ended up being really late because winter went on forever. Then we got frustrated and bought some seedlings at the store and got some random things from a neighborhood festival. This had mixed results, the worst of which was everything being ready to harvest way too late in the season.

To try to make this year’s garden better than last year’s, I took a class (Getting the Most Out of Your Home Garden — more info. here), which was great and very informative (I hope to be able to incorporate some of what I learned into the garden posts I’m totally going to write on a somewhat regular basis). I also started using the Mother Earth News Vegetable Garden Planner, which is super awesome and lets you do stuff like this:

Denver urban garden plan

This is the plan for the big bed in our back yard. How cool is that?!

*Note: The garden planner is awesome, but I found it completely overwhelming to get started because I’m apparently not a very spatial person capable of drawing things to scale and in accurate relation to each other. So, as usual, Ben did all the hard work — he measured every single thing in our entire yard and input everything into the planner. (Unfortunately, our whole garden plan is too large to export, so you can’t see the whole thing, but don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll tell you more about it than you’ll ever want to know.)

An important thing I learned from class and through using the planner is that you don’t want to start all your seeds at the same time. This seems kind of, I don’t know, duh, but in the past, the best I’ve ever done is start cold-weather stuff (like broccoli and kale) at one time and hot-weather stuff (like tomatoes and peppers) later.

If you’re using the planner, after you have everything all set up and you’ve put your plants where you want them (this part is kind of like the logic games from the LSAT — some plants prefer to be close to or avoid certain other plants), you can click on the plant list, which as you might guess gives you a list of your plants. But it also tells you when to start things indoors, when to start them outdoors, when to plant them outside, and when to harvest. (Of course, if you’re not using a planner, you can figure this all out on your own by reading your seed packets. I just generally like to do the least amount of work possible.)

Here’s what part of our plant list looks like.

part of our plant list

The exciting news is that if you live in Denver, early February is when you want to start onions. So that’s what I did yesterday. The other cool thing about the planner is that it tells you how many plants you can fit where (if you’re less spatially impaired than I am, you can totally do this on your own by using math and stuff). The space I’ve plotted out for onions will fit seven plants. To make sure I have enough, I planted nine. (I put two seeds in each cell but promise I’ll thin them — I hate thinning plants and haven’t always done it.) In the past, I’ve never paid attention to plant spacing. Usually I just throw a bunch of plants in the ground where I think they look good and let them fend for themselves. We’ll see if correct spacing makes a difference.

Starting onions!

Woohoo! It’s the very humble and overly filtered to the point of looking post-apocalyptic start of our 2014 vegetable garden, which is a fun thing to think about when it’s -2 degrees outside.