Monday, December 1, 2008

Other people are getting ready for Christmas- I'm prepping for spring!

That's right.

I love spring.

Spring to me means starting my garden: pouring over catalogues, trying to decide what I want to try this year, reading over my notes of what didn't work last time, and finally planting.  I get so much satisfaction from watching my tiny seeds sprout into little plants, then growing until, finally, I can eat them fresh and even preserve them to enjoy later.  

We're lucky to be far enough South now that I can start pretty early. Once the seeds sprout, it'll be 2-3 months before many of them are big enough to plant outside. That means that if I want to start moving some plants outside in April, I need to be getting a move on in the January/February time frame. Throw in a busy holiday season and time spent ordering and shipping, and you'll see why I'm already picking out veggies. 

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an amazing book by Barbara Kingsolver. You can see her webpage here- it's full of helpful information and delicious recipes. Barbara has inspired me to try heirloom plants this year- plants that were grown in the past, but are not commonly found today, often because commercial operations don't grow them.  I think they're cool because of the huge variety available- tomatoes alone come in colors from black to yellow and pink, and the tastes vary widely as well. It's also neat to think that some are the same vegetables that were enjoyed by people long ago. Heirloom Acres Seeds is one source I've found with a good selection of both seeds and plants. 

I'm particularly excited about the tomatoes and the asparagus crowns. Anyone who's ever grown tomatoes knows that once you eat a home-grown one, you can never settle for a store-bought one again. A little tip: if you plant cherry (or grape, or any other smallish-variety) of tomatoes in large pots, you can start moving them outside to get sun early in the year. If a cold snap is imminent, it's very easy to move them inside for the night. Do this and you'll have the earliest tomatoes around- and be the envy of all your neighbors! I've done this for the past two years using cherry tomatoes and 3ft. stakes in the pots with great success. Also, asparagus crowns are a good option if (like me) you're impatient and don't want to want 3 years to harvest it. Plant the crowns this spring and you can start enjoying a small crop in a year's time. 

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