Garden Dreamin’

I have been brooding again for a farm. As I listen to these gardening podcasts, I yearn for a space that is large enough and sunny enough to have a more bountiful harvest that my deck. I start dreaming of having a quaint little homestead that I can live off of and use the products to create a modest income. It’s a dream, but still one I would love to attempt, even though I’m getting older each year and that reality seems farther and farther away from being realistic.

Of course, I have to be successful at growing things now if I even want to consider doing it on a larger scale. That has yet to happen, but each year, i have more and more success. Last year was truly my most successful year since I started honestly gardening in 2018. That sounds like a long time, and it is, but I started with zero knowledge. I started seeds indoors, regardless of season and best growing conditions, then once it got warm, I planted all the seedlings out, not paying any attention to the frost dates, the fact that some seedlings just can’t be successfully transplanted, or the soil needed. Each year after, I learned a bit more. The next year, I direct seeded everything. There was some success, but again, I paid no attention to the frost dates, or appropriate seasons. Just planted seeds once I got warm. The following year, I tried growing indoors those seeds that needed a better lead time and could be transplanted, paid attention to the frost dates, and then direct sowed those seeds that were best for that in the right temps and seasons. I got a pretty good result then. Enough to brave flowers.

Last year, I tried direct sowing again, but paid attention to frost dates, and where they were planted. I had great success as nearly everything grew, except those that I have never been able to grow, for whatever reason. Some of the things that I had grown indoors first, did not prosper. Those that usually prosper, regardless, did nothing. A part of that was due to raccoons looking for grubs and herbs they find delicious, the weather, as it just didn’t really get warm enough to support the plants or cool enough to elongate the other growing seasons, and in some cases, just planting too many plants per container.

The important part was that I had learned. This year, I’m starting those plants that I can indoors (with the exception of leeks. While you can grow those indoors, I’m just going to have to direct sow them, use a polytunnel type situation, and hope for the best), and have already planted out some peas. My new rule of thumb for when to start planting your spring plants is when the forsythia blooms, you can sow cold hearty seeds. Unfortunately, I had to hard prune my forsythia last month, so, it won’t bloom this year as it grows new shoots and new growth, but I have neighbors who have them, and I’m going by them, even though the temps may vary slightly from what I get in my little valley.

Yesterday, I saw the first green shoots of peas poking from the soil. It got down below freezing last night and while I know the peas can deal with a light frost, I still covered them with pots to help keep the heat of the soil around them. I had done this last year with great success and expect the same. This weekend, I’ll lay out some worm castings to encourage more growth, and see what happens.

I haven’t messed with soil quality as of yet. I do need to do that for the beets and carrots. I think then, I’d have better luck with those. But I do plan to plant some out this coming weekend, along with some hanging window planters for salad greens. I tend to not eat salads because they often cause me digestive strife, but I’m hoping by growing my own, maybe, that won’t be as much of an issue!

The other thing I hope to focus on is better herb growth. When I decided to have a “witchy” garden, herbs were a big part of that garden. I want to create a garden that not only looks lovely, but is utilitarian as well. That every plant grown can be used for other purposes besides being pleasing to the eye. To make salves, tonics, tinctures, oils, sachets, and even spell jars and magical items. I feel that growing those resources myself makes it far more meaningful and have more intention.

I have various sages, thymes, and oregano growing in the retaining wall. A have a witch hazel bush growing there as well. I plan to have lavender, caraway, borage, and fenugreek growing in the two boxes behind the retaining wall. I will have comfrey growing with onions and garlic along the upper walkway, across from the nasturtium, sweet peas and snail vines. All my “cooking” herbs are grown inside in a terracotta pot. Once they get large enough, they will be pricked out and potted individually, leaving just a few to comfortably grow in the pot. And I have rosemary growing in a pot by the door, because a witchy home isn’t complete without it.

I am really looking forward to this year to see what all my collective learning creates. I’m hoping that by utilizing a lot of the knowledge I’ve gotten in just the last couple weeks will help expand my growing harvest.

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