Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Our very own planting guide!

Considering the number of years we've been at this, it really shocked me to think I hadn't done this before now. And if I'm being honest, if it wasn't for the fact I am home with a sick little boy I probably wouldn't have gotten to it this year, either.

I made our very own planting guide!

In previous years we've kept the rule of thumb of planting everything on the May 2-4 weekend (a pretty big holiday here in Canada - unless of course you don't drink beer - in which case you would know it as the Victoria Day long weekend), with the exception of the onions which I knew could tolerate the last few weeks of frost. But I had a suspicion that we weren't doing our vegetables justice, so decided it was about time I took a closer look at our planting dates.

There are hundreds if not thousands of planting guides to be found on the internet across a myriad of different planting zones and covering numerous crop types. But they didn't always correspond exactly to our frost dates, and didn't match up with what I was planning on planting. I wanted something I could glance at quickly, and help keep us on track, especially with those crops I plan on planting over multiple weeks.

The first step was to decide on what we were going to plant this year. Most of the staples were continuing (like cooking onions, carrots and tomatoes) and a couple were being omitted. Peppers take a lot more work and care than we usually give which resulted in poor yields the last few years, so I'm going to save the space for plants a little more forgiving. Pumpkins have always done well for us, but as they also take up a lot of garden space this year I want to focus on crops that give us more yield in smaller spaces. I'm going to make it up with squash that I know I can train up a trellis, such as acorn and butternut. We're also trying a few new sub varieties of our favourites:

black nebula carrot
golden beet

Chinese red meat radish 
scarlet kale

Once we had the varieties decided I made a quick mock-up of the garden bed layout, and started to list the planting dates (from date of last/first frost). A quick Google search gave our location the last frost date of approximately May 22 (that will usually fall on the May 2-4 weekend) and the first frost date of September 25, so all I had to do was work backwards (and sometimes forwards) from those dates to determine when I could plant my veggies.

I am quite happy with the end result. While I don't have all the harvest dates in yet it will certainly help get us started. You'll notice I added 5 weeks to each month (which I know there really isn't) but I wanted to make sure it could be used for each year going forward (and the months tend to start and end at different times through a week). My rule of thumb will be to just start at the first full (or mostly full) week of each month and go from there!

Feel free to use our own planting guide as a template to create your own! I'm a firm believer that the easier you make gardening for yourself, the more likely you are to continue with it and succeed! At least that's the plan for now...

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