Garden Planning: January Isn’t Too Early

Now that it’s late January and the seed and garden catalogs are coming in, my mind has turned to 2013’s garden.  This weekend was unbelievably lovely and I went to the garden to get an idea of the space available for early plantings.

I've never had peas in January, but these are coming along.

I’ve never had peas in January, but these are coming along.

I have a nice bed of arugula, some of which I harvested and some garlic, leeks, and chard in the front part of the garden.  In the back, I have some peas on a trellis.  They are blossoming and have some pods, but so far nothing I can harvest.  Beyond that, I had some turnips the voles ate so I pulled them.  There are a few herbs, the cold frame, and some open space with a row of parsley toward the back.

I guess the voles have to eat, too, but I could have used those turnips!

I guess the voles have to eat, too, but I could have used those turnips!

I pulled two of the leeks, a fat radish, and some baby turnips and clipped the arugula and cutting celery as a harvest.  Last week I took some of last summer’s blue hubbard squash from the freezer to make a squash and white bean soup.  The arugula and radish may be a nice accompaniment.

In the garden, I pulled some weeds and did some cultivating, then trimmed the roses.  By the time I was done I had a good idea of space.  In the past ten years, I have always planted earlier than my fellow gardeners, but last year’s late February plantings gave me  the best spring garden I’ve ever had.  I’ve found that when I plant spring crops (lettuces, spinach, carrots, radishes, beets) during recommended times, I don’t get much from them.  The greens in particular bolt because it often gets hot and stays hot in mid-May.  By planting in late February, I avoid that.  Last spring I had weeks of luscious spinach, wonderful radishes and some pretty amazing lettuce.

It looks like I will have space to begin with some early plantings.

It looks like I will have space to begin with some early plantings.

So in about five weeks, I plan to put in another spring garden, and barring an ice storm in March or a late snow, I’m hoping for a repeat of last year’s harvest.  So far, I’m still mulling what I’ll plant and where.  I’ve found that things the voles find attractive have to be planted where they can’t be reached without crossing open space and if I plant across the garden again, rather than in long rows, I should have luck.

As I stood talking with another gardener today, we noticed that our hawk (the vole equivalent of the holy hand grenade of Antioch) was perched in a nearby tree.  We were so pleased to see it.  I hope as spring comes it has a nest full of very hungry hawklings.  It can certainly get all the food it needs from our garden.

What a beautiful bird.  I saw it fly away through the park before I left.

What a beautiful bird. I saw it fly away through the park before I left.

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