During your planning for the new year, you might (or might not) have set some ambitious garden goals. If you'd like to take action and move towards growing your own food this year but are puzzled about some concrete steps you can take, here are a few suggestions for the new year.
Depending on how much you cook, you could save anywhere from $3 to $10/week growing your own herbs. Common culinary herbs, like basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary, are all originally from Mediterranean climates, so they are very easy to grow in dry indoor environments.
Since many herbs are perennials, it takes a bit longer to start them from seed, which can discourage beginning gardeners.
Try purchasing hydroponic herbs (with intact root systems) from your supermarket and transplanting them, or pick faster growing annual herbs to start from seed like parsley, cilantro, dill, and basil for a quick boost to your homegrown herb garden.
You can setup a 4-foot square raised bed garden with wooden borders for about $20 in wood and $30-$50 in soil (assuming you will need to add about 1 cubic yard of soil).
A well-planned raised bed garden can produce 20-100+ lbs of organic produce a year, so it pays for itself in the first year of delicious fresh produce you harvest from your garden. Even easier ideas include using old pallets as pots or planting directly in straw bales.
Break out of the cycle of only growing hybrid vegetable seeds from the big box stores and add diversity to your garden with amazing heirloom varieties that differ in color, shape, and texture.
Not only do heirloom varieties yield as well as hybrid varieties bred for monoculture mass production, they taste much better and are generally far more resilient than their hybrid cousins.
Even small patios and backyards can house 5-6 dwarf fruit trees that, once established, can produce bushels of perfectly ripe fruit each year.
Advantages to growing your own fruit include varieties unavailable in supermarkets, fruit that's ripened to perfection, and a huge money savings (take that, $10 bags of honeycrisp apples!).
January in the temperate zones of North America is a time for the plants in your garden to be hibernating and saving their energy for massive growth in the spring.
Our garden planning should follow the same pattern; conserve energy and figure out all the things you'd like to grow this year so you can figure out your planting dates on a calendar.
I thought it would be useful to list some of the things we are planning on doing in January in our townhouse garden (inside & outside) to prepare for the spring growing season.
- Took some cuttings of our goumi and gooseberry bushes in the back.
- Harvesting the last of our Jerusalem artichokes from its patch in the backyard
- Started some hardy leafy greens (chinese broccoli, lettuce, kale, tatsoi, parsley, cilantro) for early transplanting into the garden in late February
- Placing an order for early potato shipment to try some new varieties this year
- Taking some sweet potatoes I saved from my October harvest and putting them in cups with water to grow some slips for planting in early June
Here at Permaculture Gardens, we have exciting plans for 2018, both in how we plan on learning more about permaculture/sustainable living practices and also on how to encourage more people to grow their own food and realize how easy and rewarding it is.
We've listened to many of your comments about the challenges that you face when trying to grow your own food, such as pests (deer, rabbits, squirrels, insects) and lack of outdoor space (apartments/small urban condos). Here is a list of the exciting gardening topics on our list of 2018 blog articles.
- Indoor growing - researching and sharing information on how to get abundant yields indoors (covering mushrooms, sprouts, self-watering planters,sunlight considerations, VOC absorbing plants and more)
- Permaculture Lifestyle - How to incorporate sustainability holistically into your daily home life, including guides on making easy homemade products, reducing waste around your house, and streamlining your daily routine
- Streamlining our educational material - We have a lot of webinars, videos, PDFs and other educational material, so we've designed a simpler way for you to access all of this (we call it GIY (Grow It Yourself) - stay tuned for an official announcement in late January).
- Full webinar schedule - we plan on having a more consistent monthly Webinar schedule, with some exciting topics like preserving, indoor growing, and foraging. See below for the half-year schedule.
Now, enough about us. What are your gardening goals this year? Please share below!