Very soon I’ll be returning to the community gardens projects I’m involved with and as the time gets closer, I’m feeling that familiar bubble of excitement. The days are lengthening and the birds are beginning to chirp away in the hedgerows when the sun shines, reminding us that we will soon be enjoying another ‘grow your own’ year with friends and neighbours.
But wait. It’s still mid Winter. There’s not very much we can sow right now so what will we be doing? Over the coming weeks I’ll be guiding the groups through all the areas involved with growing vegetables. We’ll be looking at crop rotation, companion planting, moving compost heaps as well as washing down the polytunnels and cleaning the pots. We’ll be discussing what we would like to grow and eat, how we can continue to make the gardens more sustainable and how we can reach out to more people in the community and teach them the skills and many benefits of being involved with a community garden.
If your mind is beginning to wander to the growing year ahead, the following list may help you. I’ve collated some of the posts I’ve written over the past couple of years that might help you to practice patience, seed choice and care as well as tips on when and how to start sowing.
1. First things first, here’s a handy annual vegetable planner that will give you some idea of what needs to be sown when. Remember, if you live in a cool area, sow your seeds later than if you live in a warmer, sheltered one.
2. In the Monthly Jobs section there is a monthly guide on what you can be doing or planting now so take a look if you’re itching to get out on a sunny, warm day.
3. January/February are great months for sorting through your seed tins, checking what seeds you have and what to buy. Here’s a post that will help you figure out what seeds are viable – and how long you can expect them to last.
5. If you want to start sowing your seeds early and there are late frosts or snow forecast, this post describes planting under a cloche – it’s something we used to do a lot of before we put up the polytunnel in our own garden.
6. For the very impatient among us who are wondering exactly when it’s safe to sow our seeds for best results, you might find this post useful.
7. It’s vital that we look after our seeds to get the most from them. This post here will help you keep your seeds in tip-top condition.
8. When the sun comes out and the soil dries out a bit, I’ll be heading out to do some weeding. This article explains how to weed pernicious weeds without chemicals and this one gives 16 natural alternatives to weedkillers.
9. If this is the year you want to grow your own vegetables organically, here we look at exactly what it means to be organic.
10. When it comes to choosing the correct seeds for your plot, it helps to know what soil type you have. Here’s a fun experiment you can do at home.
11. Lots of seed packets will tell you it’s okay to sow parsnip seeds from February onwards. My experience was quite different.
12. Choosing what to grow and keeping tabs on it can be quite an art. I’ve found Pinterest to be very helpful.
13. If you like to grow potatoes, there’s a few posts to help you on the blog and in particular one written last year about choosing blight resistant potatoes and eradicating the need to spray against blight.
14. As the time comes, you may have a few questions on how to sow seeds. This post shares tips for sowing seeds in recycled containers as well as a YouTube clip with seed sowing instructions.
15. Once your seeds are sprouting, do you know how to identify them if your labels have fallen out of the tray? This post might help you.
16. If you’re new to growing vegetables you might find it quite expensive to begin with. Here’s ten steps to creating a budget garden.
17. Would you like more vegetables or herbs growing closer to your kitchen? Here’s some tips for container planting.
18. If you have a small space, there are certain considerations to get the best from your plot. This post helps you figure out what vegetables to grow in a small space.
19. If you don’t have a greenhouse or anywhere to start your seedlings off, a seed bed might be the answer for you.
20. Lastly and just for fun, here’s ten facts about our best friends – the earthworm.
There are many more posts on this blog to help you with your vegetable growing experience, as well as gardens to visit and our own growing experiences here in the Carlow hills. If you can’t find the answer to a vegetable growing question, leave a comment and perhaps I can address it in a post over the coming year.
So best of luck and here’s to a successful vegetable gardening year ahead!