Year in review: what I’ll do differently in 2015

2014 Year in Review: What I'll do differently in 2015

Our little house is a mess of gardening books, seed catalogues and planting charts these days. What do you know — as soon as the holidays arrive and my day job slows down a bit, I jump headlong into garden planning mode.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve reviewed what worked in our 2015 garden, and what didn’t. Now, it’s time to use that information to determine what we’ll be doing differently this year.

Each gardening season brings me intensive new learning. Some of that learning comes from reading or talking with other gardeners, and some of it comes from observing our plants. That’s why I’m so obsessed with taking photos and writing about what we grow. It helps me keep track.

There are a few refinements I’ll definitely be making in the 2015 garden. I’m planning to try new varieties of several crops, especially tomatoes and kale. I’ve been poring over our seed catalogues and creating a super nerdy document to keep track of my ideas and notes. 2015 is going to be all about experimenting with seed varieties.

I’m also planning to tweak many of my garden planning charts and calendars. I’m giving myself a lot of time to design the spreadsheets and other documents I’ll need to get a continuous harvest and maintain the soil. The system I had last year was pretty good, but kind of difficult to update, and I have some new ideas that will make the process more efficient (stay tuned).

Most importantly, 2015 is going to bring some big changes to our garden. The house next door is undergoing a major renovation, and pretty soon our “family farm” will be dwarfed by much bigger houses on either side. We’ve also realized that we need to create a proper space for humans (!) to eat, lounge and read books in the yard. And finally, we need a way to keep the garden watered during a summer when everyone is expecting to have very busy schedules.

Urban gardening brings some very specific challenges. As city dwellers, we are working with very limited space — a small city lot — and we want to achieve a lot with it. This requires us to create a very intensive design plan, and to “stack functions” — a permaculture term that means elements of your space can play multiple roles. For instance, can we create a space for humans that also helps us grow plants? How about a gazebo that can also be used for crop protection and rainwater collection?

I’m working out the details, and excited to figure it out.

What’s growing this week: Our parsley is still going strong, and the corn salad I clipped back last week is actually growing back inside its hoop house. Same with our November-planted microgreens, and our kale. Yes, growth is extremely slow, but it’s still happening and if you look closely you can really see it. I also picked the last of our carrots and beets this years — the beets were looking a bit rotten, and the carrots were showing signs of pest damage, so I cut my losses and picked what I could. Our parsnips, meanwhile, look great.

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