This time last year, you would have found me perusing my Fedco seed catalog with a big mug of tea, as shown below.
|Ahh, the zen of garden planning.|
2012 has brought some changes - this is my seed-purchase planning spread this year.
|No zen this year, more like ordered chaos.|
You may notice that my collection of garden books and catalogs has rapidly expanded. And I've swapped the tea for hard cider.
No, garden planning is not so stressful that I'm driven to drink! Today is Thursday and that means it's Growler Day at Farnum Hill Ciders in Lebanon, where locals can stock up on the offerings of the day at a discount.
While hard cider was the original American adult beverage of choice, it is not well-known today. What I've been enjoying this winter's evening is nothing like Woodchuck or Hornsby's; Farnum Hill tastes much more like a dry white wine. I'll let owner Steve Wood tell you about it himself - here's a clip from the PBS production "The Botany of Desire" where Steve was interviewed. (The feature-length documentary is based on Michael Pollan's book of the same name, written before he started on his lengthy, multi-book quest to find the answer to life's most persistent question, "What's for dinner?")
Garden planning brings out the eternal optimist in all of us, but each year, the motivation changes a little. Discovery of new or different varieties, hard lessons learned from the year prior, and surprising successes all play a role in the general feeling of "anything is possible" for the upcoming year's garden.
For 2012, I've got three primary motivators for my garden planning:
1) I'm feeling ambitious to really work on season-extension this year, so I can be working in the garden from March through December. 2012 will be the year of the cold frame.
2) Julie introduced me to some new tasty vegetables that she grew in her education garden at the Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm in 2011, and that I really want to grow this year. Julie's enthusiasm for growing and eating vegetables is positively contagious. Specifically, I want to try out salad turnips and braising greens (choy, mustard greens, broccoli raab, etc.) and garnish kale.
3) My aunt and mother-in-law gave me gifts of garden books for my birthday, full of tips, recommendations and layouts. I've relied on the good words of Mel Bartholomew and Eliot Coleman for garden planning help in the past, but I'm really enjoying The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch and The Kitchen Gardeners' Handbook by Jennifer Bartley this year. I will review these books in more detail this winter.
I'll also share my planting list and seed order with you all shortly. Readers, are there any new varieties you're planning to try out this year?
As this is a Dark Days challenge post, I should mention that I did eat more for dinner than just hard cider. The hard cider is an excellent local beverage pairing with my meal this week, but unfortunately, I fell a little short on the local choices for the food part of the meal.
Adam cooked black duck and Canada goose breasts with shallot and sweet cherry, and I prepared a side of homemade pasta, rosemary-infused olive oil and Parmesan cheese. The duck and goose were local (well, they are migratory, but were shot flying over Great Bay in New Hampshire), and the pasta and rosemary-infused olive oil were homemade, but the shallots, cherries and cheese were all from far away lands. Not a great week for Dark Days eating... but a very good week for Dark Days drinking.