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Blogging about gardening in zone 4, marriage, our golden retriever and life in general.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Farming (in February!)

Puxatawney Phil has declared an early spring this year. We did have a mild January, but I'm convinced we'll pay for it in late March with bitter cold and big snow. We currently don't have much white stuff out there, but I know it's coming. 

I just finished reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" about the eating local movement. The author and her family tried to raise enough vegetables and meat animals to be able to eat out of their back yard for an entire year. It was a great book, and maybe if I had access to two or three acres, a few deep-freezes and a large pantry, I'd be considering it. But then DJ would think I've really lost my marbles. Wither way, I strongly recommended the book.It makes really interesting points about eating locally, the ramifications of eating California-grown spinach or South American Bananas in the winter, and why American food culture is actually making us sick. 

I also read "Square Foot Gardening" to think about how to plan my garden this year. The book suggests four foot by four foot raised beds, and that a plant or plants be grown in each square foot. It's really about maximizing space, reducing the amount of space given to weeds and growing the food products you really want to eat.* Since I don't have a lot of space, it helped me rethink how to plant my garden. 

Which of course... lead to spreadsheets. The first is titled "Planting Schedule", and identifies when I'll start putting seeds into dirt either inside or outside. Seed for transplant dates, transplant to garden dates, harvest dates, etc. Obviously it's unfinished, but eventually it'll be all color coded for each plant. I'll probably add a row beneath each plan to record when those things actually happened. 

You can see on the tabs on the bottom that I also have a garden layout section. It's based on the Square Foot Gardening method, but in ground instead of in raised beds. Each cell on the spreadsheet represents a square foot. 

I'm curious to see how this works. I've based my "Planting Schedule" on the realistic last frost date in Bozeman... June 1. (Gah that's so far away!). Last year I jumped the gun on starting plants inside for transplant, and they really didn't do so well. I'm also hoping that the compost we tilled in last fall, as well as the compost we might till in again this spring, will improve productivity. 

I'll probably give in soon though on planting some herbs inside. I've been keeping a basil plant from last summer, as well as a mint plant, alive through the winter. I'd like to get growing on some cilantro. 

*Anytime I think about gardening I think about both of my grandmothers. I called my grandma Jan last night to talk gardening with her as I worked on my spreadsheets, and she mentioned that she's got an entire bag of this leafy stuff and she can't remember what it is, why she grew it, and what she's going to do with it now. It's basil. I suggested, what else, brushcetta!

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