I’m getting giddy about spring now that I’ve purchased seeds for our
2013 gardens! I spent a lot of time looking through websites and
catalogs last week to make my selections. I started my seed search
having a general idea of what I wanted to grow (thanks to our members!)
but I needed to explore all the available varieties for crops that have
just the right qualities for our gardens. I considered things like:
- Drought-tolerance (what if this year is like last year?)
- Yield (plants with ‘heavy production’ sound like a winner for market gardening)
- Days to maturity (how long it takes a crop to grow from seed to harvest time)
- Uniqueness (it’s fun to have something special in the garden)
Once I found varieties I liked, I tried to find the best deal, which
involved comparing price to the number of seeds per packet. My seed
sources are listed in this blog post.
By the end of last week all of my selections were set and I was ready
to order. Fortunately for me, a friend came over to swap seeds and I
discovered that I had a whole heapin’ mess-o-seeds hiding out. I decided
to be frugal (part of sustainability is using what you have to make the
most of it) and incorporated the seeds I already owned. That meant I
had to make the decision to forgo some of the more “Oh-that’s-cool!”
crops I was going to buy in exchange for some of the
“Well-these-are-nice…” seeds I already owned.
So now after all of that deliberation, the list of crops we’ll be growing for 2013 is complete. Click here if
you’d like to see it. I won’t bore you by talking through each crop,
but there are some I’m especially excited about and would like to
highlight in a later post.
Starting and Transplanting Seeds
Now that it is ‘Garden Planning Season’ I’ve had many people ask me
about when to start their seeds. Here’s the deal: I’m not an expert.
Remember, the whole point of Arcadia Farms is to provide an opportunity
for our family to develop a sustainable lifestyle and to share what we
learn with others. So while I can’t pretend to offer you an
authoritative answer to the “When do I start my seeds?” question, I am
happy to share my thoughts and experience. (As a matter of fact, I’m
looking forward to talking with some other growers/farmers this week to
get their advice on when and how they start their seeds. Look for that
If you click here you’ll find a spreadsheet that shows when I plan to start all of my seeds. (Don’t hold me to it! I may make changes… especially
if I find errors!) My start dates are based on a few different factors.
First, I assessed which plants do best when they are sown directly into
the garden and which plants can be transplanted. Please note that
there are some plants which can be transplanted that I am choosing to
direct seed under row covers. (After a few years of gardening this is
something I have a pretty firm handle on. If the concept is new to you, a
quick Google search like “can radishes be transplanted” should yield
the info you’re looking for.) For those that can be transplanted, I
tried to find information on the best age for transplanting. Next, I
determined which crops could be planted before the last frost date and
which needed to wait until after. (The average last frost date is
the projected date on which the last hard freeze is predicted to be on
during the spring. Cool-hardy plants can survive – sometimes thrive –
through some frost, but more tender plants such as tomatoes will be
damaged by extreme cold and need to be planted past any danger of
frost.) This factor – before or after last frost date – will be fudged a
little on my part because I intend to plant some crops under plastic
row covers which will warm the air/soil and protect from frost, thus
allowing me to plant earlier than recommended. And finally, I determined
the days to maturity for each crop. This information is usually
included on the seed packet and often can be found on the distributor’s
Using all of this information, I setup a spreadsheet that would allow
me to enter the transplant date and days to maturity to find out both
when I should start my seeds and approximately when I’d have a harvest.
Would you like to try a similar approach to starting seeds? If so,
you can click on the image below to download a Seed Starting Plan
template. Instructions are included on the first tab.
Click on the image above to download a spreadsheet that will help you determine when to start your seeds.
The average last frost date for the Kalamazoo/Portage area in 2013 is May 18 according to www.letsgrowveggies.com. To find the average last and first frost dates for your area, click here.
I’ve also recently received questions about companion planting. What
is companion planting? According to Wikipedia, companion planting is
“The close planting of different plants that enhance each other’s growth
or protect each other from pests.” Creation is pretty cool. All of the
symbiotic relationships that exist in nature are astounding. The whole
thing reminds me personally that God knew what he was doing when He made
it and it emphasizes the value of interdependence in all creation
(including humanity!). On a practical side, companion planting is very
important for organic gardening. Done well, this method can help you to
fight against plant disease and pests without the use of chemicals.
Again, I’m not expert in companion planting, but here are the resources I currently use:
Click the image above for a list of companion plants found at
Planning Your Garden
If you’re new to gardening or just have questions about how to plan
yours, I would love to help (FREE)! I can help you select crops that
will work well for your land, climate, family, etc. and to select a
layout. Feel free to email me with any questions or garden-design
Want Free Seeds?
Did you know that right now we’re in the process of giving away
$25-worth of FREE heirloom, non-GMO seeds from Annie’s Heirloom Seeds (a
Michigan-based company)? Click here to enter – it only takes 1 minute! Giveaway ends on February 16, 2013.
Posted by Katie
@ 11:02 AM EST