Before sitting down to write this article I needed to go out to the garden to get veggies for a salad. I brought in lettuce, arugula, spicy mesclun greens, radishes, celery, onions, broccoli, and parsley. Throughout December and January I was able to gather something for us to eat at least every 2-3 days from the garden.
choose an area that both has enough sunlight and irrigation
If you don’t already have a vegetable garden you need to choose an area that both has enough sunlight and irrigation for the veggies and is located close to the house or another area that you go to daily or every few days. It may only consist of planter boxes and pots or you might have to work with a neighbor to borrow space in their garden and share the harvest.
The previous owners of our house had the veggie garden by the barn close to a water source. I left it there because I go down daily to feed animals. I felt the amount of amendments in the soil, full day of sun, and closeness to the chickens were definite plusses. Being by a dirt road and in one of the lowest spots on the property were the two main downfalls of this location for year round gardening, but were something I could work around.
I measured and plotted out the area on engineering paper including the barn, fences, gates, location of sprinklers and the current garden. I decided to make some cold frames and quite a few raised beds in hopes of not loosing so many veggies to gophers. I also included a separate garden by the driveway that would have flowers and interesting veggies. Then at a later date, I chose an-other place for more fruit trees where we had moved the fence line for our paddock. I also decided that phase two of expanding the veggie garden was going to take a large chunk out of the pasture for berries, grapes, a compost area, and a large area for veggies that will take up lots of room like pumpkins, corn, melons and grain. I might also put a greenhouse and a storage shed in the larger area, or a combo of the two in one structure. That would help when breaking up the rest of the pasture into two or three smaller areas and a causeway to rotate a few yearling cattle which makes for healthier pastures and stock.
Putting your garden down on paper allows you to create a vision
Putting your garden down on paper allows you to create a vision and timeline of what you want, gives you and idea of what materials you need, lets you stake out the site to see if it is workable, and makes it easier to get help on the project. You can always change it later if needed or expand another part.
Two other things you can do this month are composting for your garden and purchasing and starting seeds and transplants. Many of the cool season crops can be started inside or directly seeded outside in beds or flats to transplant later. If you want to catch up on the winter garden you can put trans-plants in the current garden, pots, or tucked in other areas of the yard. You can still get some grains or other cover crop out and growing for the compost pile or to harvest. Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant can be started inside this month for April transplanting.