This is usually a fairly complex task, but it seems harder this year for some reason. There are all sorts of side issues:
- We decided to buy into a CSA this year, so the garden is auxilary or winter storage foods, rather than augmenting or replacing supermarket and farmstand stuff.
- The garden planning software I’d used two years ago has been improved, but not to where the varieties I want to use are on it. (I didn’t use anything last year, and it was obvious.) They give you the option to add plants, but so far as I can tell, you can only use what you specify, not what someone else does — which means I’d have to enter all the plants because I use different seed vendors than they do.
- Because of 2, I went looking for new garden planning software. Found some I liked at Mother Earth News, but it’s only free for 30 days. It’s $25 a year otherwise, and the plant/seed database seems to be a lot bigger, but I can’t get it to let me do anything but spec. Burpee seeds, which I also don’t use, and essentially repeats the problem I already had (see #2).
- Seed prices have gone up, making me even more unsure about what to plant.
Most seeds are now .03 each, or more. Used to be you could get many seeds for .01 or .02 a seed. I usually make up a database with the calculated seed prices from at least my three favorite catalogs. For the common varieties, it means that I can see which seeds are actually cheapest, not only by packet price. And, if I want to consider only organic, or see what that adds to the price, for example, I can do that, easily. One of the three companies added .30 a packet for organic seeds this year. Not outrageous by any means, but I sure wouldn’t have ‘seen’ that if I hadn’t been doing the data base!
Every year I grow lots of beans, peas, herbs, asparagus, jer. artichoke and a mixture of whatever else. Last year, I grew more lettuce and greens than anything else. If they survive the winter, I have sorrel and mustards out there that will be our earliest greens, except maybe some chives or root parsley. I want to make our garden more productive, have more food put aside for winter, and just make it so we don’t have to go to the market or farmstand as often this spring, summer, or fall, saving gas, time, $, and wear & tear on the car — all noble goals!
I love, love, love looking through seed catalogs in January — but planning the garden can be an exercise in finding out how ADD I can be!