Yes, it’s only the middle of November, but the girls and I are already planning for next year’s gardening.
We learned a lot in our first year of gardening here, and will be using that information as we expand our food growing.
We have several goals and things we keep in mind when deciding what to order. First is keeping in line with our long term goal to be as self sufficient as possible. The other is to take advantage of being able to grow our own food by growing things we either can’t normally buy in the grocery store (either due to lack of availability, or poor quality in stores), or because they tend to be more expensive, or “treat” items, that we typically can’t justify spending our limited budget on. Both of these goals also allows us to go a bit wild in what we grow! 🙂
With that in mind, I’ve already placed and order with Rare Heirlooom Seeds. It’s a small order; some of the things I would have bought were out of stock while, with others, we will go through the wish list to pick and choose. Here is what I’ve got ordered right now.
Giant Rattle Breadseed Poppy. I was really excited to see this new item! These are very much like the poppies I remember my mother growing, when I was a kid. I used to love eating the seeds right out of the dried poppy pods. She grew enough to make the filling for poppy seed rolls, which uses a LOT of seeds! Poppy seeds are something I love, but buy very rarely. If we have our own, I would certainly be using them every chance I get!
Longue Rouge Sang Carrot. I’ll be honest. I selected these just for the colours.
Kyoto Red Carrot. This is one I ended up choosing based on comments other customers left behind. It’s described as a “winter carrot”, which obviously isn’t a thing in our climate. Several people had complained about not being able to grow it well in their warmer zones. Then someone in a zone 3 – the same as us! – said they grew it as a summer carrot and it thrived. Awesome!
Strawberry Spinach. This is something I’ve actually tried to grow before, in containers on our balcony, years ago. We had limited success, largely due to weather conditions. What little we got, I liked, so I want to try them again. Both the leaves and the berries are edible, so that’s bonus, too!
Dorinny Sweet corn. I hemmed and hawed quite a bit about growing corn yet, but I decided to just go for it. This variety is from a Canadian hybrid, so it should be quite hardy to our growing zone.
Montana Morado Corn. This one falls into the “go wild” category! I chose it partly because it is a cold hardy variety, but mostly because of the amazing colour. It is also a variety that can be milled into flour; something we have included in our mid term plans. We just have to acquire a hand mill. Once we do, we will be looking into planting grains as well as corn, specifically for milling.
Other things we plan to get from this site are giant sunflowers, plus a variety of sunflowers that can also be used to make a purple-grey dye.
We’ve also got a substantial wishlist going at Veseys, which is where we got almost everything we planted last year. Those will be ordered later in the season, as their new catalogs include promo codes for discounts. With how much we plan to order, we’re going to need a discount!
This past year, one of the things we really loved about having the garden, was being able to pick and eat our own produce, daily.
As great as it was to have fresh produce all summer, there wasn’t much left over for the winter. This time, we will focus more on things we can process (the pickled summer squash was a huge hit for our family), as well as things that can be kept in the root cellar for long periods.
So for sure, we will be re-ordering the summer squash mix, with an extra packet of sunburst squash again, to go with the carrots and cucamelons (I have cucamelon tubers from this past summer, but will likely get more seeds, too).
We plan to get a variety of winter squash, with a focus on those that store well. Winter squash is something I almost never buy in stores. This will include small eating pumpkins (rather than the more popular carving pumpkins).
This time, we know to use 3 or 4 inch pots to start our seeds indoors, and to start them earlier. Maybe even get a warming mat. Some of our seeds took forever to germinate (especially the birdhouse gourds!), while others germinated fine, but outgrew their Jiffy pellets before the weather allowed for transplanting.
With potatoes, we decided to get the same amount of Yukon Gem potatoes as before (6 pounds of seed potatoes), but also get other varieties. If all goes to plan, we’ll be planting 4 varieties, including two that are noted as being good for winter storage. For these, we’re thinking of using grow bags or pots, to try and keep out the grublins that chewed holes in our potatoes.
We might get more varieties of corn, as well. We will be getting a collection of peas in 3 varieties. Peas right out of the pod are the best! A 3 variety collection of bush beans is also on the list. I love fresh beans, but in stores, they are among those things that always look a bit iffy. Eventually, we will get beans for drying, but not quite yet.
If we can figure out how to protect them from the deer, we will be getting the same collection of beets as we did before, too. A spinach collection (three varieties, each maturing one after the other) is also on the list.
We will be getting at least one more variety of carrots. We will very likely pick up a 3 variety pack of raspberry canes, too. These produce in their second years, so they will be for 2022’s garden. We’ve also been looking and onion and shallot varieties, focusing on those best for storage.
We’re looking at starting to get more trees and bushes, too. There are blueberry varieties that are suitable for our climate. Of course, we want more haskap berries. What I thought were gooseberries here turned out to be currants, so gooseberry bushes would be good to get, too. We’re also looking at mulberry, apple, plum and pear trees. All of these take at least a couple of years before they start producing, so the sooner we start planting them, the better. We will likely get fruit and nut tress from Hardy Fruit Tree Nursery. It’s one of the few places I’ve found that has cold hardy food trees suitable for our zone.
There is an extra purpose to all this planning ahead so early. We had plans we weren’t able to follow through on for last summer’s garden, in regards to trellises and other supports. Once we know what we are going to plant, and figure out where, we can use the winter months to accumulate any materials we need to buy (like cattle panels, rebar or rebar grid, tie wire and other fasteners, etc.). Most of what we want to build, we can use materials salvaged from around the property, but there will always be a few things we’ll have to buy.
With that in mind, I now have a tighter goal for cleaning up the spruce grove – something that is already behind “schedule” of our original timeline by a couple of years! We have a lot of tall, springy poplars that I want to clear out, and they will be used to build upright trellises, A frames, arbors, and more. We’re also looking to build squash tunnels. The beds we have where we planted squash last year looks like they will be permanent gardening areas, so I would like to start building up raised beds there. The walls for these can double as supports for any arches we add. Plus, I’m going to see if I can start taking down more of the dead spruces that are further from the house and garage (the ones closer will be taken down by professionals!). The wood might be usable for various projects. However, as we clear out the dead wood and open up the ground to sunlight, this will give us space were we can plant fruit trees that require extra protection from the elements.
We’ll have a lot of work ahead of us!
I’m looking forward to it. 🙂