Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Start Planting! #Books & #Garden Planning Go Together :)

Last weekend I started most of my seeds in organic potting soil. It is always a big production, taking multiple hours to sort out what I want to start, how many of each, and (of course) documenting what I plant and how. By how, I mean whether I double-seed. I do that mainly on older seeds that may not have as great of germination rates.

Despite gardening for multiple years, I can still never remember which seeds do well as transplants and when they all need to be started. That hazard is in part due to my inability to not try tons and tons of new varieties each year. So, when I plant I pull out a few of our reference books that have proven themselves most helpful.

You can see them both under the piles of seeds below: Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit by Briggs, Flowerdew, and McVicar; and How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons. The first book, Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit, is about 2 inches thick (as many good reference books are). It has 2-6 pages devoted to each kind of vegetable, herb, and fruit and each section includes information on popular varieties, propagation, companion planting, and even some history and recipes. It was given to me by my aunt some years ago and it has become my quick go-to source for basic info on plants. My only complaint is that it does not include grains.

The second books is one I have mentioned before. How to Grow More Vegetables (HTGMV) is a little hard to take in at first, since it has huge tables in the middle that are intimidating to the casual gardener. However, it is also an awesome reference (once you get over the enormity of the data). Using the HTGMV method, you plant seedlings diagonally instead of in rows to maximize space. The tables tell you how many of each kind of plant you will be able to get into a certain square foot area, which is very helpful when planning and planting starts. It also tells you what kind of yield you can expect from that area, so you don't, I don't know, plant 500 square feet of zucchini that you will never be able to give away.

So, my starts are started. As always, I have way too many tomato and eggplant varieties and I will depend on some attrition to weed out what actually goes into the gardens. You can see some of the beautiful Blue Aztec Corn in the photo below. We are starting corn indoors this year since I know some people do that. I never have, so it is a test. We planted these last week and already most of the corn is up, so that is a good start (no pun intended).