By Maren Neldam, Children’s Education Program Manager
The sun is traveling its winter arc low in the southern sky, and we are urged indoors to connect with the restful rhythm of the season. The garden has been stripped of the summer bounty, revealing spaces which invite us to imagine. While the garden is in sleep mode, we can slow down and prepare. Relish the opportunity to sit with a notebook, look at seed catalogues and dream. Here are some tips:
Make a map of your garden — a simple birds-eye map will do. Note permanent features, perennial plants, and annual vegetable gardening. Look for places to plant more intensively. Drawing the garden to scale can help visualize plant spacing. See illustration above.
A garden journal is an invaluable planning tool. Record planting dates, successful varieties and failures for each season so you can learn from the past.
Keep a crop rotation log. Effective crop rotation will build soil and prevent disease. Make a page or chart for each garden bed and record the date and crop grown.
What to Grow
There are many great seed companies in our region offering unique and heirloom varieties rarely seen in stores. Sign up for seed catalogues to explore crops you like as well as some new varieties to experiment with. Organize those into cool and warm season crops. Sign up for some garden planning classes.
Timing is Key
Check out our Maritime Northwest Garden Guide to solve the puzzle of what to grow when. The earliest plants can be sown or transplanted outside as early as March. Others must wait until warmer weather in May or June. Save space for both. With some planning, you can plant quick-growing salad greens in early spring, harvest them in May and make space for heat loving tomatoes, while inter-cropping fall crops in August.