It's Too Early To Plant Your Tomatoes
It's too early to start your tomatoes! There, I said it. While the longer days and brighter sun has many gardeners itching to get growing it's important to work with the seasons rather than against them. So, with spring rapidly approaching here are the first 5 steps to starting your 2021 garden. You'll notice very little of it has to do with planting anything.
1. Organize your seeds - At the end of every season my seed collection is just a jumbled mess that once resembled 5 neatly organized binders. The first thing I do is to rid the pile of empty packets, making notes for what I need to re-order. Arrange your seeds by type, color, alphabetical, however you like really, just do it. I highly recommend 3 rings binders with photo storage pages. You can fit 2 packs of seeds per photo slot and you can easily look through the pages over and over... and you will.
2. Map your growing space - Brabble Hill Farm has 3 major gardens and 3 minor beds. I need to have maps with names of the spaces but I contend that even if you have a small space, so do you. You will need a map to make sure your plants fit but also to make sure that you fit. You're a very important part of your garden and if you can't plant, water, weed and harvest easily your garden will fail. You also need to know how much cover, trellis and irrigation you'll need. There's math involved. Make the map.
3. Plan ALL of your 2021 growing seasons - Only planting seeds once and then harvesting means you're missing out on so much potential. Planning a spring, summer and fall garden allows you to split up some of the work and spread out the harvest. There are lots of great plants for spring gardens like brassicas, peas, cool flowers and long season plants, like onions and mums. More popular garden items like tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers go into the summer category. Fall gardens are great for later plantings of potatoes, lettuce and more brassicas. Organizing this takes lots of thought and you won't want to be planning out your fall garden in the middle of harvesting your spring garden. You either plan it when you have time or you won't have it.
4. Make a seedling plan- Now you're almost ready to start planting seeds. The penultimate step is to decide if you're starting inside, outside or buying seedlings from a local nursery. Starting inside means you need to acquire and organize soil, trays, heat and light. Starting outside you'll need to prep beds, get covers and working around the weather. Ordering seedlings can mean working with a local grower, finding seedling sales and working with what is available. You can't go wrong here, I will use all 3 methods. The point is to have a plan... are you catching a theme?
5. Get going - You've laid the ground work, you've planned and you've got the goods to get going. Now it's time to do it. I find it best to make a loose check list of the work I want to start with, complete that list and then make another. Do not, I repeat, do not make a comprehensive to do list of all the planting, transplanting, watering, weeding, harvesting etc... Nothing will kill your drive and love of growing faster than seeing every task written out. Don't worry too much about what isn't growing or how pretty everything is, do use each step in the process to observe, learn and react. Enjoy the process, wonder at how plants even grow at all, get your hands dirty a little bit every day.
Those are my first 5 steps. Is this how you do it? What are you excited to grow? I want to know even if it is tomatoes and you are starting them now. FYI, I'm starting my tomatoes March 22nd.