Ok, I know it’s really COLD outside! But the sun is shining (at the moment) and the sky is blue (in spots) and if you just look up and ignore the winter landscape it’s not that difficult (kinda) to think ahead to summer. In fact, it is the perfect time to begin setting your garden goals for the year. Having a plan is an important first step when it comes to growing a garden. And what better way to spend a cold winter day than dreaming of hot summer weather and lush green veggie patches? Seriously, making plans and even starting some growing projects is a fantastic way to beat the winter blues!
A good way to start the planning process is to simply make a list of your favorite plants to eat and cook with. Then do a little research, or ask me, to figure out which plants can be easily grown in your area. Some veggies are easy, some are a little more challenging. But I recommend only growing what you know you will enjoy eating, at least at the beginning of your gardening journey. You can experiment and add more crops as you progress, but start small and simple!
So what are my personal 2022 Garden Goals? My focus this season is on establishing more perennial crops. Perennials are plants that regrow every year. As opposed to annual plants that have only one growing season. Most of your typical garden vegetables are annuals, like tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and squash. Of course, I will always grow these staples in my food garden but I want to establish more permanent plantings.
One example of a great and easy perennial for the backyard is asparagus. Asparagus can easily live and produce food for 20 years. My current asparagus beds are at least that old now, so establishing a new bed with plants I started from seed last year is on my to-do list for early spring. Asparagus is one of my favorite spring veggies to eat and is very low maintenance once established. I have several baby asparagus plants waiting for a home, so if you are interested in establishing a bed just let me know!
Last year I added Sunchokes to my backyard garden. Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem Artichokes, are a perennial in the sunflower family with an edible tuber. The tuber can be eaten much like a potato. Sunchokes grow and look a lot like sunflowers, so this is a great garden addition if you happen to like sunflowers, and really who doesn't? They are also well-loved by the bees!
Berries are also great in perennial gardens. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are easily grown at home. As are elderberries, huckleberries, and currants. Then, of course, there are lots of edible fruit trees that grow well in our area. I will be adding at least two new blueberry bushes (in pots) and a fig tree to my home garden.
My second garden goal for this year is to finally establish a dedicated herb garden - primarily full of perennials! I always grow herbs but I usually interplant culinary herbs with my veggie plants and treat them as annuals (which I will still do). But some of the culinary and most of the medicinal herbs I am interested in are perennial in my growing zone so a
dedicated perennial herb garden makes sense. I actually started this new bed last fall by placing a portable chicken coop on the site. The chickens did a great job clearing the area and leaving behind valuable fertilizer. I followed the chickens with a compost pile. By spring, this bed should be ready to be worked into a new herb garden. I have lots of different herbs started under grow lights. If you're interested in something, in particular, I may just have it?!?
My third personal garden goal is to add at least one more raised bed to my backyard garden. Raised beds are such a joy to grow in. I believe they are well worth the effort and expense to add to your garden. I may try a new design, just for fun. Or I may stick with the corrugated metal beds I have been building for myself. They are a very functional and practical design and I don’t have any complaints about them. And I love their look. The design options and price points for raised beds are many!
My professional garden goals are simply to help more people grow more food! That can be as simple as growing microgreens on your kitchen counter or as fancy as a multi-raised-bed garden complete with automated irrigation. There are lots of in-betweens too. I believe everyone can grow something. And I’m here to help!
So what are your 2022 Gardening Goals? Are you just getting started with growing a garden? Are you looking to try something new? Are you ready to scale up and become more food self-sufficient? Grab that seed catalog and start dreaming!