Planning Your 2017 Garden
It’s much too cold to go outdoors and garden, but it is never too cold to plan next years garden!
Planning is an important step in growing a healthy, bountiful garden, and this is a good time to plan. When growing a garden, it is a always good idea to keep notes of what was planted, the varieties that were planted, how well things grew, and where they were planted.
Some gardeners like to draw up a chart of the garden for future reference. The chart could list row by row what type of vegetable was grown, with the variety name, or you can divide the chart into sections and have a brassica (includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts) section, a greens/salad section, root crop (carrots, parsnips, beets), alliums (onion, leeks, shallots, garlic, chives), legumes (peas, beans), squash area, potatoes, etc.
Planting the garden in sections makes it easier for crop rotation, which is an important factor in growing a healthy garden. Rotating crops is helpful because different vegetables take out different nutrients from the soil, and by rotating the crops the soil does not become depleted of certain nutrients. Crop rotation also helps in preventing disease, and pests as certain plants are more prone to different types of disease and pests. By moving crops around, a problem that could have affected the potatoes last year will not affect the squash that is growing there the following year.
After going through last season’s garden, it is always fun to decide what you want to grow the next season. Is there something new that you want to try? Our family garden always has a few new things growing in it. This past summer for example, we had three different types of beets. The standard red beets, then a golden beet which we have grown for the past few years and new this year was the Chioga beet which has white and red circles on the inside. All of these did very well and will be planted again next season. We also tried new varieties of corn, cabbage, potatoes, and leeks, but liked the old favourites better. However we never would have found the old favourite varieties had we not tried some new ones, so it is always worthwhile to try new things, as well as hang on to the favourites. When looking for new vegetables and varieties, do your research, as not everything grows well in our short growing season, and uneven day/night time temperatures.
Its not only a good time of year to plan the vegetable garden but it is also good to plan the landscape. You get a clearer picture of the landscape when all the annuals, bulbs, and perennials are not there. Now you can see the ‘bones’ of the landscape. The trees and shrubs that will be there for many years to come. Perhaps you want to add some more winter interest to the landscape, by planting a few more evergreens, or colourful branched shrubs next spring. We have long winters in Prince George and you want the landscape to look attractive throughout the winter, as well as the shorter seasons of spring and summer.
So as you wait for next years garden, sit back, get out your gardening books, and make plans!
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George
- Highway 16 West at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road