Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Garden Plans on a Budget

February is the month for garden planning, at least in my neck of the woods, even if it looks like a winter wonderland outside your windows.




snow-1-w-Sycamorelane Photography

A week ago this is what it looked like here.  Snow, snow and more snow.  Today it is freezing rain.

But, inside it’s nice and cozy and so I’ve been doing some planning and dreaming.


gardening-w-SycamoreLane photography


I’ve been flipping through my favorite seed catalogs, with my pink highlighter at the ready.  And I updated the cover of my Gardening and Preserving journal.


gardening-1-w-SycamoreLane Photography


I have so many seed catalogs!  I look through all of them, but I always go back to my favorites. My top three are Seed Savers Exchange, Jung Seed and Plants, and Park Seed.   I love Seed Savers Exchange for the amazing variety of heirloom plants and reasonable pricing.  Jung Seed and Plants is great for a combination of hybrid and heirloom plants with great pricing.  And I love Park Seed for their huge variety of flower and herb seeds and again reasonable pricing.


gardening-3-w-SycamoreLane Photography


If you are on a budget like me making a list of ALL the seeds you want to order will soon put you way over the top of what you can spend.  Every year I make a list.  What seeds make it on the list depends on several factors…

  • Price-  If the seeds are overly expensive I cross them off the list or search for them elsewhere. I have a strict dollar amount in mind and it is important to me not to go over my budgeted amount.
  • What can I grow in my garden-  I keep track of what I have planted in the past.  I know what doesn’t grow well, what grows sort of well, and what does great with the soil I have.  For example, beans and corn grow great in my garden. So, they are an old standby and a must.  Lettuce is another plant that I know does great in my garden, so I always plant it abundantly.  Anything in the pumpkin family does not grow well in my garden, I have planted them continually for the past 10 years and babied them along, but this year I am not planting them.  I’m going to give my garden a year to rest and see if I can’t rid it of the beetle that is taking out my plants.  Tomatoes in my garden have always been attacked by a fungus called Septoria Leaf Spot, so I know they do not grow well in my main garden. Last year Joel built two raised beds for me for my tomatoes, they did much better.  I still have some kinks to work out there, but I know that I will get a much higher yield if I put my tomatoes in a raised bed.
  • What can I reasonably fit in the space I have-  I try to keep in mind the space I have.  I’ve had the same garden spot of 11 years, so I know what will work and what won’t (for the most part) and if I’m not sure Joel doesn’t have any spacial difficulties and he will let me know if I’m thinking all wrong or not.
  • What new garden seed do I want to try- Every year I try something new.  Sometimes it is a hit, sometimes it’s a flop, but that’s the fun of trying something new.  In past years it has been eggplant ( a hit), red potatoes (a hit), a new type of watermelon (a flop).  This year I’m going to try Vermont Cranberry beans (a dried bean) and Brussels Sprouts.
  • What can I do without- I look through my seed from the previous year, which I keep in a container in our basement.  I know that keeping seed from year to year can lessen its viability, but I haven’t noticed too much of a problem with this if I only keep it for a year.  This year I have leftover, tomato, eggplant, Romaine lettuce, and radish seed.  So, I will not purchase these this year.


When I begin my list it is ALWAYS bigger and MORE expensive than what I know is right for us.  But, I write it down anyway! I enjoy dreaming.  The dream ends when I begin to add up my list and shock settles in.  It’s amazing how fast $2.45 packets of seed can add up to sticker shock.


gardening--4-w-SycamoreLane Photography


After the shock wears off, I begin the process of elimination using the steps I listed above. Eventually I come up with something a lot more manageable.  It still seems like a lot of money in my mind, but I know it will be well worth it when my shelves are brimming with preserved goodness.


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The final and last step of my spring seed order is choosing one thing to add to my mini orchard. It is what I ask for my birthday every year.  Last year it was Pink Reliance grapes.  This year I think I will add a Captivator Gooseberry to the list!


What about you?  Have you begun your seed order?


  1. Even though it is grey and rainy here in the Pacific NW, I'm with you, pouring over my catalogs and longing for spring...

  2. I love your garden journal. I wish my thumb was a green as yours. Looks like it will be another great year!

  3. I love garden planning! I'm a Baker girl. Love Baker seed Company. It's not too far away. And we share the same type of growing season, so I know they know what works for us. We are scouring our see catalog, too. Looking for something fun...and new. And then there are the standards. So fun. Dreaming of green whilst covered in white.

  4. I have not started, but it is time!!! Thank you for getting me in the mood!!!

  5. I have been itching to get planting too. We had one little bit of snow a couple times this week but I think we may be seeing the last of winter here. Exciting to plan for spring.

  6. We've decided not to do a garden this year (sniff sniff)...we have a new puppy. A now 40 lb 4 1/2 month old puppy. A lab. She's a maniac. I can't imagine keeping her out of the garden and I don't want to be that angry. LOL So, we'll wait til next year and hopefully she'll be calmer then. And I think I need to take a lesson from you and start planning and choosing some new things. We have only done cucumbers, carrots (which did NOT GROW), banana peppers and some kind of squashy things that my dad gave us the seeds b/c he had extras. :) I can plan this year and maybe make my space bigger....then plant next year. Also: composting! I want to try composting!!!!!!

  7. we've just started doing garden planning...what fun!
    i love your top shot...a winter wonderland indeed!!


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