Shallots roasting on an open fire

Shallots roasting on an open fire

The hurly burly happenings of the past week, culminating in a holiday gathering of family, are behind us. Now I’m set to settle in and relax for a few days before ringing in the New Year with friends – leafing through gardening books, new & old, gleaning inspiration for the new year, browsing seed catalogs, and generally reflecting on the upcoming season. Rumors of snow are swirling about – how cozy that would be!

Joy of the HarvestAs luck would have it, I got my updated Territorial Seed catalog on Christmas Eve, so now I’ve got just what I need to begin putting together my spring seed order – or at least a first draft. Combing the pages, backwards and forwards – in the end, I’m destined to order more than I’ll possibly be able to plant.

But plant I shall! Especially in light of this motivating stat from the president’s message in the Territorial catalog — according to a newly released study funded by the European Union, organic produce contains 40% more anti-oxidants than conventionally-grown produce. It’s widely believed that antioxidants decrease our risks for cancer and heart disease. Factor in that organically-grown produce just plain tastes better, and it seems like a win/win to me. I’ve already started a list, but reserve the right to change my mind and add or delete. (After all, I just got the darn catalog!)

Yet I’ve found that my vegetable garden is somewhat less forgiving than my ornamental garden. It’s much more deadline oriented – especially if you’re trying to grow from seeds. No sow, no go. No plan, no produce.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned that I need to plan better for:

  • I love to cook with shallots, but the bulbs need to go in the ground by late fall for harvest the following summer. Also, supplies can be limited, so I need to be sure to order pretty early for best selection. Territorial recommends making one’s order by mid-September.
  • I could be harvesting greens all winter, including my favorite, spinach, if I’d sown successive rows in August, September and even as late as October; providing winter protection under a simple cold frame allows one a harvest all winter.
  • Fresh carrots, another favorite, can be harvested all winter … and I’d be doing just that if I’d demonstrated sufficient forethought and planning to make a few successive sowings and choosing a variety or two that over winters well in the ground.

My New Year’s resolution? I vow to do sow much better!

I’m enlisting the help of my husband. Up to this point, he’s been strictly an appreciator vs. a doer of the garden thing. He’s promised to participate in the vegetable garden upkeep, which should help. I have to say though, it makes me a bit nervous – I don’t know if this garden is big enough for two.

Photo: © Paul & Sunny Daniels. Reprinted with pemission.

  • Lynn
    Posted at 14:58h, 28 December Reply

    Having just received a seed catalog in the mail, I share your anticipation.

    One book I’ve enjoyed is The Gardener’s Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking, by Richard Merrill and Joe Ortiz (Ten Speed Press, 2000).

    Half garden guide, half cookbook, it resides in the kitchen, but is one of my first stops when I have a quick garden question.

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