Is It Garden Planning Time Yet?

The days have gotten a bit longer, and the snow deeper. I’ve helped my community garden write up a new application. I’ve consumed a lot of hot tea. I’ve moved Bill’s new bocce ball set (his Christmas gift from me) a couple of times.

I. Am. READY. For spring!

Alas, spring is not yet ready for me. Or anyone in the Chicago area. And, frankly, I suspect it won’t be ready for us until roughly May. Which is still a gazillion days away. Or three months, which feels like about the same right this second. Especially with all the snow that hit us melting, but only into icy treachery.

It doesn’t help that Erica over at Northwest Edible Life has this month’s to do list for northwestern gardners, and as a newbie Midwestern gardener, I only know that I bet all her stuff is too early for me, but I don’t know what to do to satisfy this spring fever. Clearly, I need someone to do this for Midwestern gardens.

Here’s what I do know. Last year, my garden was broccoli, sage, nasturtiums, tomatoes, and peppers. The tomatoes went crazy, which was neat, but they were utterly not the tomatoes I wanted to be growing. And, frankly, I get really good tomatoes from my CSA and my farmers at the various markets I hit. So, for me, tomatoes doesn’t seem like a reasonable choice this year. (I’ll admit doesn’t hurt that I noticed almost everyone grows tomatoes, and so I wonder what my soil may be depleted of at this point, five or six years after the garden was founded.)

Peppers, for basically the same reasons, are also out. Broccoli is out, but mostly because it was an aphid-ridden disaster last year. I harvested just about nothing, but nothing else had aphids. So a wash, I guess.

Sage is in because it’s a perennial I don’t have the heart to remove. And also because it keeps me and everyone else in sage enough for years. And it’s got pretty flowers.

Flowers. Really, this was all a lead-in to flowers. Nasturtiums, which I only learned of last year, are VERY IN. I will definitely be planting more of them this year.

My goal for my little garden plot this year is to give it a rest from the usual suspects. The ones that even I always want. To remember that Bill and I are intentionally interdependent with others, and so to leave the usual suspects to the folks who do it better, and to do the things I have to come up with on my own.

And that, my friends, is experimentation and flowers. I want to use my plot this year to grow nothing but edible flowers (and sage, since it’s still there) and experiment with how to eat them.

My “to-grow” list is currently short, and my “not to grow” list is fairly long. I would love to have a place to grow roses, for example, but more perennials is not really a great plan for a plot in a community garden.

So I’m thinking Snapdragons. Pansies. Johnny Jump-Ups. MAYBE marigolds. But I don’t know what else I should be considering. I’m going to spend a lot of time over at Wikipedia, for sure, looking at the list of edible flowers, and how to grow any that might appeal to me.

But I still would love suggestions from the crowd on what I should try. And when the heck I should plant them! I think of pansies, for example, as a spring and fall plant. I think snapdragons are a summer flower, but I’m not actually sure.

And where to buy??? That’s a huge question for me, because I want to eat these flowers. I suspect sourcing edible flowers that I actually want to eat is harder than just growing pansies because they are pretty.

What about you guys? Are you going to be gardening this year? If so, are you planning something “odd”, like I am, or something more “sensible” like all the tomatoes forever? Do you have any advice on any of these issues? If you’re one of my fellow gardeners, what flowers would make you smile to see day in and day out?

You know what? If you read this, please leave me a comment (here, on Facebook or on Twitter) telling me your favorite flower. Even if it’s not edible. I’ve got flowers on the brain!

10 thoughts on “Is It Garden Planning Time Yet?

  1. We are, evidently, attempting to grow:
    Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Collards, Cukes, Edamame, Eggplant, Lettuce, Melons (Cantelope & Watermelon), Onions (white & green), Peas, Peppers (3 varieties), Pumpkins (ohgawdwhy), Spinach, Squash (2 kinds), Tomatoes (4 kinds), plus herbs (Basil, Chives, Dill, Oregano, Sage, Thyme)

    At this point, we have all of the above starting in our first-floor bathroom and every day a new plant pokes a sprout up above the soil–yesterday, it was spinach and, today, it’s peas. Originally, I was having a bit of a panic about how much of my yard this will take over…but, then I realized a yard is just grass. This is WAY cooler.

        • I’m hoping Jen meant I was growing enough to start my own CSA. Because, yes, we’re going too have too much veg for 2-3 people to eat. (Except tomatoes. I expect my husband to eat those all up.) =)

          As to pumpkins, I actually LOVE them…but the one time my family put them in our garden in Illinois we got a really unbelievable number of pumpkins…and then found the plant had set up volunteer sprouts in the empty parcel next door, so we had even more pumpkins. If one pumpkin plant can lead to that much chaos with more experienced gardeners and a family of 5 eating the bounty, I think even bringing pumpkin seeds into the house is asking for trouble.

          • 1) Of course she did. I didn’t realize; I was replying from the admin page which doesn’t show threading like this. I’m sure there’s some way to tell she was replying to you, but I missed it. Bad admin.

            2) You are going to have a lot of veggies. At least you’re also going to have a lot of freezer space. Nevertheless, I recommend you ask Corrine to teach you to can. (Of course, I recommend that partially because I think it’s fun.)

            3) That does sound hectic. I did know pumpkins can be fairly invasive, but I get the feeling that’s for all squashes. Consider growing them vertically; I suspect that will minimize number of surprise runners. It won’t, however, minimize number of gourds. But that’s ok, you can probably eat the flowers before they gourd out.

  2. I’ll probably put in some pretty annuals here and there, but as far as edible goes I’m tomatoes and herbs forever. I haven’t had time to build a real garden yet since the backyard do-over last year, so I’m stuck with containers. I’m aiming for cherry tomatoes, basil, sage, and oregano. I want thyme too but I keep killing it. There’s a metaphor there too, so if you find yours, would you keep an eye out in case mine’s nearby?

    • I’ll look, but they seem to be well hidden this day.

      Ask Corrine for advice on growing tomatoes. She & Dave know what’s up.

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