Friday, January 11, 2013

Gardening 102 - What next?

If you're hoping to garden this year, it makes sense to plan ahead. Planning ahead can save you a LOT of money.

First suggestion: if you've had a garden in the past, go through your leftover seeds and see what you have. I did this recently and realized I have 3 kinds of carrots, 5 kinds of bell/ sweet peppers, 3 kinds of beets, 5 different kinds of zinnias, and enough cucumber seeds to plant the whole yard. So guess what, I'm NOT ordering any more cucumber seeds. What I did find a need for is red leaf lettuce and grape and cherry tomatoes. It really only took my about 30 minutes to go through my saved seeds. Usually, anything from the past 3 seasons will still germinate for me. Anything older than that is "iffy."

Another suggestion: save things you know you will need/ want. For example: we are going to winter-sow again this year, so I've been saving our empty milk and OJ jugs. So far we have 18 of them in the basement. That's not enough for everything we want to winter-sow yet, but it is a significant start. By the end of February we should have about double that. I'll use some to start plants in late January, and more in February and March.

Other things I save ahead? Egg shells and newspaper. It only takes a few Sundays' worth of newspaper to fill our needs each Spring, so I just save what I think we'll need, plus a little more. Egg shells are the best natural deterent for slugs I have found. (Somehow our yard is a beacon for slugs- yuk!) So I start saving them in January each year. I just place a large plastic cup (think take-out) on the counter, then each time I make scrambled eggs for breakfast, or bake something with eggs, I drop the eggshells into the cup. Every couple of days I smush them down. When the cup gets fairly full, I'll take it out to the garage, where I keep an old empty pot to put them into. Non-chemical slug-repellent is expensive, but the eggshells are free. Just make sure when you want to crush them up to put around your lettuces later this spring that you wear gloves (they get all pointy! Hence, why the slugs don;t like them.) We do NOT save the shells from boiled eggs. There could be some significant egg stuck to the shell, and I don't want to attract critters to my garden (or my kitchen!)

So the next time you empty that jug...think... will I want this later? If the answer is "YES!" then you are probably a hopeful gardener.

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