Sunday, February 8, 2009

February 8 Garden Newsletter

Dear Gardener’s~ February 08

I’m a day late and a dollar short, but here is this week’s newsletter, nonetheless. I’m a busy girl, what can I say? It is also late and I know I won’t get to this tomorrow, so I will be more concise than narrative. So here goes!

This week’s checklist:

1. No Slacking. Complete last week’s checklist, if you haven’t had a chance already. And don’t kick yourself if you aren’t done yet (or a week from now for that matter)… I’m not.
2. Go browse the garden centers. You don’t have to drive to downtown PHX to Baker’s for (the best) selection. You can just go around the corner to Home Depot, Wal-Mart, or Fry’s Marketplace. Or Target is one of my favorites… Take a look at what is on the shelf to get an idea of varieties and colors that you may want to use before step three. Take notes on prices so that you can create a budget. It’s no fun to think you are going to get away with spending $X and end up spending $5X. Check prices of seeds and decide if you could share a packet with a neighbor. Most envelopes hold enough for several season’s plantings, too.
3. Make yourself a treasure map. Sketch (or list for you less artsy gardeners) a basic garden plan. This is helpful whether you are doing veggies, annual flowers, perennials, shrubs, trees, herbs, or cacti, whether seeds or plants. It doesn’t matter what you are doing in life, having a plan always makes you more productive and successful. Even if you are using pots, this will help you stay in budget when you arrive at the garden center and also double as a shopping list for less time wasted which equals more time gardening (or mending, ironing, mowing, car washing, napping, singing, hiking… you get the picture). Google Square Foot Gardening and Companion Planting for some great ideas on how to use your space. You don’t need to buy books on these subjects. You can everything you need to know from free online sources, the library, and Trish’s home bookshelf (feel free to stop by anytime). Less is more: less lettuce spent on knowledge equals more garden cash!
4. Do your research. Decide which varieties you are going to grow based on what you know will be successful here AND what is available to you. It is probably a little too late to order seeds online for February plantings for instance, so you will be limited to what is available locally.
5. Do your shopping! Yes, that glorious moment is here. You’ve done the preparing, now clear a space on your calendar to plant. Don’t purchase until that spot in your dayplanner is your dayplanter. You don’t want to have 15 pots on your porch for 15 days. You want to buy ‘em and plant ‘em. Better for them, better for you, and less costly if they are forgotten and die. Living things are always preferable to me over dead ones. Is it the same for you?
6. The memory is the first thing to go; Keep a journal. This is extremely helpful. It helps you know when to expect fruit, helps you remember next year how long it took your peas to germinate or how many pounds of tomatoes you brought in, or which variety of zucchini did better in which location (gardening is a process of trial and error), it helps you remember that it got too hot one year for your larkspur to flower and to remind you to plant it three weeks earlier the next year, helps you identify your crops if you forget what you planted or if they don’t germinate when expected, it helps you remember the names of the flowers when the little white identifier stakes have gone the way of the dog, helps you remember where you planted bulbs during the seasons that they are invisible so as to keep you from accidentally troweling them, it helps, it helps, it helps. My first year that I got really serious about growing food, I kept seeing this group of plants in my garden that I couldn’t identify. One day I was out there thinking, those look exactly like carrot tops… **ding, ding, ding** I didn’t remember planting any carrots that year, but these were definitely carrots. I pulled one out to check, and yep, they were carrots. Since then I have kept a journal. My first was one of those calendars that your kindergartener makes you for Christmas. I just wrote on January 12, planted spinach and April 20, harvested last of spinach. The next year I got more in depth. This year for the first time, I am going to keep it on my blog. (When I get to that point, I will include the blog address in an email.) Okay, I have rambled long enough about the journaling. I wasn’t going to be narrative…. But really, it is so incredibly helpful!!

Okay, you’ve heard it all. That’s the end of the newsletter. The next page is just my suggestions on what to possibly be doing and planting in the garden over the next week or two. While you wait for the next newsletter, don’t kill the bugs. I’ll write about them next time. Meanwhile, if you have a question, or garden concern or success you want to share with me, you know what to do. Email or call me at 988-2760.

Happy Gardening!


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