It seems strange writing about the summer when it is 20 degrees outside and we have 2 feet of snow on the ground, however, it is time! In fact, I’m sure a lot of very serious gardeners (and farmers) started planning in the fall. I like to think of myself as a serious gardener, but perhaps it would be best to think of myself as a serious novice gardener.
If you are like me, you have forgotten that your garden last year was more weeds than vegetables by the end of the summer. You will have forgotten about the insane amount of squash bugs that came to visit you. And you will most certainly have forgotten that you were unable to grow green beans when you never had trouble with it before. It is a new year! And that means new plans, and working on what didn’t work last year.
Step One – Think about space.
I seem to always forget this step and jump right into the purchasing of seeds. For some strange reason, I cannot seem to fit all the winter squash I can eat in a year, rows upon rows of sweet corn, potatoes for storage and 15 different varieties of tomatoes…especially not among the green beans, sweet peppers, hot peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, and other assorted vegetables I seem to plant. At least I can’t fit all of this in my 16′ x 20′ garden bed. So this year, when thinking about my spring plantings, I will be considering the space that the vegetables I want to grow require. No matter how hard I try to force next to zero spacing, it does not work! You will be happier if you allow yourself the room to get into the garden to pick the vegetables. I may or may not be speaking from experience here.
Step Two – Look at what seeds you already have.
I frequently skip this step as well. When those glossy seed catalogs with their beautiful pictures come in the mail, I will have all but forgotten that I already have 4 varieties of summer squash, and probably do not need to add another to the mix. But, if I already have a list of seeds that I own sitting next to me, I will know not to order another package of blue hubbard squash seeds.
Step Three – Make a list of what you want to grow.
What does your family eat? Even though you think it would be amazing to plant all those zucchini plants, if your family doesn’t eat zucchini, it isn’t worth the space.
Step Four – Look through your seed catalogs.
This is a hard one for me. You know you want to jump to this step first. Even when you know you need to start with step one, there are so many beautiful vegetables that you want to grow. They all look amazing! This is why you make a list of what you would like to plant before you look at your seed catalogs. You want to pay specific attention to how long that seed will take to grow into whatever it is supposed to be. We have a relatively short growing season here in Maine, which is great for all the different greens you want to eat, but not so great for certain things *ahem* watermelon *ahem*. I also like to try planting one new thing each year, so this is a great way to find something new to plant.
Planning for your summer garden is important. It is what allows you to make the best use of your space and get the most out of your garden.