The days are getting longer and the temperatures are beginning to mellow into the 20s & 30s here in the mountains of Vermont. Sunshine is beginning to intensify and these clear blue sky days with bright sun reflecting on "corn" snow begin to give me spring fever. Though true spring is a couple more months away and we still have our share of "messy" weather, on indoor days I find myself curled up on the couch with my hot cocoa and seed catalogs, dreaming of green seedlings sprouting thought dark earth and new tree leaves uncurling.
I have over time realized that planning & preparation for new projects is a good way for me to get a handle on what it will take to get the job done and pace myself so I am not doing too many things in a last minute rush. I can take stock of seed stocks, what I need to purchase, what plant starts I will need and what new plant I may want to experiment with this year. There are soil amenities to consider, what worked last year and what didn't, what repairs I need to make to tools and fencing, and how I want to rotate the garden crops from last year for optimal growth.
There are so many ways to garden these days even for those of you with minimal space. Whether you are doing a porch garden in containers only or a full half acre, you have many choices. I encourage you to look for suppliers that are careful about developing new species and not messing with genetic modifications. For container gardeners, there have been some amazing "miniatures" that have been developed in the vegetable varieties that have high yields and are great for a one or two person household. Time and experience have caused me to include aromatic herbs mixed among my rows of ground crops to keep insect pests at bay. It works on the same principle as companion planting to neutralize fungus development and increase soil health without commercial fertilizers. Herbs like comfrey which can get invasive if you don't cut them back before flowers begin to disperse, can be added to compost piles to increase nitrogen. One plant can produce 3 cuttings and give you enough nitrogen for the whole summer. Aromatics like rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, lemon balm and even catnip can repel insects while adding herbal medicinals and culinary stock to your household.
Some seed companies to consider would be High Mowing Seeds, Johnny's, Fedco, Peaceful Valley and of course, Richters in Canada for herbs. Don’t forget to support your local seed saving groups as heirloom seeds are important to the continued ability for all of us to plant crops that are capable of reproducing themselves. Having to rely on the modified species that have to be purchased on a yearly basis because they cannot reproduce themselves, sets us up for control by outside sources of our own food supply.
The sky is the limit! It's easy to overdue purchasing new varieties, so planning, again, is key. Just make sure that whatever you do, do it well and your garden will support and sustain you from one summer season to the next.