I love winter. Truly I do.
I like the crisp and crunchy snow.
I like the brightness.
The cold is not so bad, as long as it stays just below freezing and there is no wind or rain, no blizzard-like conditions and only a gently falling, powdery white and fluffy snow.
Unfortunately, winter in Illinois is rarely cooperative and this winter is particularly stubborn. We’ve barely had snow, the temperature has wavered between a balmy 40 and a frigid 5 and the wind has been horrid.
So when I got my first 2015 seed catalogs in the mail, I excitedly settled down on the couch with my cup of coffee and started plans for this year’s garden.
The plan so far is similar to last year’s.
In our kitchen garden we’ll have the usual suspects like tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, peppers, celery and a variety of herbs.
We’ll throw in some cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.
Carrots, beans, peas, squash, cucumbers and okra will be out in the back gardens along with potatoes, jerusalem artichoke and onions.
I’ll try planting corn again this year…popcorn and maybe a few sweet corn varieties…and I’ll look forward to seeing if any hybrid squash or pumpkins volunteer this year.
Companion planting is a definite must, as it worked out so well last year.
The borage we planted, apart from adding beauty to the kitchen garden, expertly trapped the Japanese beetles, stopping them from attacking our produce. The weeds and wild growth in our swale also did a wonderful job of distracting the horrible pests. The rest, we were able to control by patrolling a few times a day with the bug vacuum.
Seed starting will be just a bit different this year. Rather than starting all my seeds under grow lights in the basement, I’ll be borrowing space in my neighbor’s newly constructed greenhouse, built out of their in ground swimming pool.
More details on that later.
Every year, I start the planning armed with the knowledge gained through mistakes made and observations gained from the year before. I’m not saying that it gets easier every year, as there are always new obstacles and new lessons to learn.
But, a good portion of the fun comes from the surprises that pop up through those mistakes and the rewards that burst out through the success.