Even before presents are unwrapped, the countdown is on with less than a month to go before indoor starts of cabbage, leeks and rosemary get going in the first part of January with peppers (hot and bell) just behind.
So I’ve been making my list and checking it twice this week to see what varieties will make it into my 219 square foot of garden space for 2016.
I am making heavy use of containers for herbs (and one lettuce I just couldn’t resist) and also using two composted trenches in the yard to grow The Three Sisters: corn, blackeyed peas and decorative squash. I currently have 8 1×1 boxes for cucurbits, but will be adding in 3 more before spring to hold all the zucchini, squash and cucumbers on my list.
Despite planning 52 different varieties of annuals for next year, my 2016 seed order (including shipping) came in under $42. This economy was mostly due to saving more of my own seed this year than ever before and having plenty of unused 2015 seed for most of what I plan to grow next year – Square Foot Gardening makes better use of individual seeds than row gardening so more seeds are conserved for future use.
One of my splurge purchases for this year was the Slo-Bolt Cilantro. I am still drawing down the huge supply of cilantro/coriander seeds saved from my 2012 garden. They still have a high germination rate so I have been using them for both outdoor garden and microgreen plantings since then. If the slo-bolt lives up to its name, my 2012 cilantro has had its last reproductive cycle and will be only for microgreens and I will switch to saving the slo-bolt seed.
Next I will start plotting out the placement of these plantings on my garden map. 2015 was my first full garden cycle in Raleigh and the biggest lesson was that maximizing light has to be a priority for north facing gardens further complicated by some tree shade. To that end, I added a height column with each plant ranked Short, Medium or Tall to plan my garden for next year. Tallest plants in to the north and shortest plants to the south has always been the rule of thumb but is now a requirement for my future garden plans which will make crop rotations a little more challenging.
It is damp, but in the low-mid 70’s this weekend, so I will also spend some time putting in new grids into my raised beds. I have been using kitchen string for the past few years but the cottony string only lasts one year before stretching, breaking and needing to be replaced. This year I am going to try a white nylon string that is made for outdoor use and hope it holds up better.
Here’s to a wonderful close to 2015 and a bright start to 2016! Happy Holidays!