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February 17, 2013 / 74

It’s Garden Planning Time

Here in the Mid-West, in mid to late February it’s too wet to work the dirt and too cold for seed germination, but the gardener-within wants to do something! The sun is getting higher and higher in the sky, there are more southern breezes, and soon you will begin to see your summer birds at the dog’s food dish. With all these signs of impending spring, a real gardener wants to get started – now!!!

If this is you, there are at least two things you can and should do now.

#1. You should begin planning your garden.

This involved deciding not only what you will grow, but where you will grow it. For example – will you lay your rows out in a north-south orientation? Or in an east-west orientation?

Additional concerns have to do with things like the height the plants will be at what stage of their growing cycles, how much room each plant/row needs to not only get adequate nutrition but also for maintenance of the plot in terms of weeding/hoeing. You do not want to plant tall plants to the south of short plants – unless the short plants like shade. If you have a mowed grassy walkway between garden sections, you can maybe get away with tall plants on the north side of the walkway… depending on just how tall they will be and how fast they grow. You can probably plant peas a respectable distance to the north of corn because the corn grows more slowly, and by the time it begins to shade the peas, it’s getting warmer and the peas might appreciate the shade and it might extend your pea harvest a bit.

When you’ve decided what you want to grow, it’s not too early to order the seeds. The early bird gets the seeds before the garden supply house runs out of the popular varieties. If your seed supplier is out of something you really like to grow, then make a note and plan to order it in the fall for the next year, and keep in mind the conditions that seeds require to over-winter well so they will be ready to spring up out of the ground next Spring.

#2. You can begin to lay out and prepare your little pots and trays, and your dirt mixtures and grow lights for those plants you’ll want to pre-start inside. In the old wooden ships and canvas Navy, this would be called “clearing the decks for action.”

Different plants like different soils, and you can get them off to good starts by giving them what they want a lot more easily in a little pot than trying to do it in the garden. But don’t make the pot too little! The longer the plant will be growing in the pot, the bigger the pot required.

And you’ll need to set up your adjustable grow-light systems to provide the right amount of light to the plants at the right stages of growth. I’ve seen some very expensive set-ups for grow lights. They are usually not only very functional, but also nice looking. But as with most things there are tradeoffs. I don’t have the money to pay that much for a place to hang or put what amounts to a fluorescent light fixture over some smallish plants. As a former accountant, the cost-benefit ratio just doesn’t work for me.

I have an old office desk that sits in the corner of my office and is a junk and miscellaneous paper accumulator. If a piece of junk, or a stray book wanders by it gets sucked to the surface of this desk where it lives for a time. So as plant starting time approaches, I have to sort and deal with all that stuff and put it away (which I should have done in the first place) so I can put my plants there.

I put some kind of cheap water-proof covering on the desk so stray watering doesn’t ruin it. Then on the ends of the desk I put concrete blocks on their side (pad the bottoms if you value the finish of the desk or whatever you use as a table), and space them so that the ends of the fluorescent light fixtures span the space between the blocks and the light tube part – the middle- forms a bridge over the plant area. They are adjustable by the simple expedient of placing patio blocks on the concrete blocks, or if you need to raise the lights a lot, just stack another block on top of the first one. This provides a solid base for the lights that is movable/removable as needed, and last year concrete blocks cost only sixty-six cents each, an amount that even I can afford.

When you get all that stuff done, you’ll be ready to go when the time to start your plants and prepare the garden is finally right.

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One Comment

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  1. Found you through a comment you left on a SilkRoadCollector post as I was leaving that blogger a comment of my own — and I must say that, clicking to find out more about YOU, I expected ANYTHING but Organic Gardening. (your comment answered 7 questions about art valuation, in case you’re wondering at my surprise).

    As The ADD Poster Girl, gardening is one of those things I have always had to make friends with admiring from afar – way too much else on my plate that takes way too much time (in that “twice as much effort for half the results” sort of way that ADDers are all too familiar with). Reading your article, however, makes me want to go buy a house with a yard and start my seeds!

    I WILL use your concrete blocks on a desk idea. Brilliant! I am currently working and living in an apartment that is MUCH too small for same, and additional surface space (that doesn’t cost a fortune or require a major reorg) will REALLY help! (one of those “duh!s” that are obvious when somebody else comes up with it but your very own brain probably wouldn’t have gone there).

    Thanks.

    xx,
    mgh

    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC
    – ADD Coaching Field co-founder –
    (ADDandSoMuchMore and ADDerWorld – dot com!)
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

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