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There are many things to consider when you plan out your garden for the year. Here are 8 steps I used to plan our garden this year and things you should consider when planning a garden of your own.
1-I ask myself what I would like to try that is new. I always love to try something new every year, at least one thing, whether that is an unusual variety of tomato that looks and sounds delicious to something I’ve never tried before like ground cherries. I also try to think of what I want to be eating over the next year because I try to do a lot of food storage. I can, freeze, juice, dehydrate, and utilize cold storage for a variety of foods we grow but there is no point in doing all of that work if you and your family will not eat it.
2-I also ask my husband what he would like to grow more of, this year his answer was more corn. We had a disappointing corn year in 2015 because the raccoons beat us to a lot of it. I still managed to get a good bit frozen but we didn’t get our fill of fresh corn on the cob.
3-This year I asked our boys what they would like to grow and the youngest said yellow carrots after he eagerly studied the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog. Our oldest boy is pretty picky so he always goes with his standbys of green beans and corn.
4-Next I look back at what we have enjoyed and used over the last year and what is left over in our food storage areas. This consists mainly of the canned goods because anything left over in the freezer isn’t going to be very good for much. I usually freeze things that I really want to protect the flavor of and want to last longer with my food saver. Using this has really extended the life of my frozen produce. Any cold storage squash or potatoes are usually gone or dwindling around this time of year also. I don’t dehydrate a lot, mainly herbs and halved cherry tomatoes. They taste like candy when they are dehydrated, they are so sweet.
5- I also try to look at our lives in general to see if that will affect anything to do with the garden and preserving. What is my husband job schedule going to be this year? That effects how I cook to a certain extent.
6-Who do I want to be able to share my harvest with? How much more do I need to plan on planting so it doesn’t cut me short on fulfilling my preservation goals for the year?
7-Are we caught up enough on our home school work that I can take the time off in the summer needed to keep up with the garden and the harvest time and preserving?
8-How much time will I be spending at the ball fields a week between both boys playing baseball in the spring on different teams while I need to be planting and weeding the garden? Even more time-consuming is the heavy preservation stage in August which is exactly when soccer starts back up. Again, 2 boys, 2 teams, 2 different practice days.
I try to take it all into consideration and I would encourage you to do the same. What is going on in your life that you need to plan around?