garden-planning

Pink Viola

Primer for Planning a Garden for Pollinators

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Although still officially winter, pollinators are already emerging from their winter havens. What will they eat? Here’s what’s blooming in my garden & pointers on planning a garden for pollinators.

Willow Room needs haircut

The Winter Garden Site Assessment: Gaining Perspectives

Spring is almost here! Yay! But before spring clutters the garden with a bunch of leaves, take a winter garden site assessment to evaluate whether your garden is growing toward your goals. Winter allows us to see the bare bones of the garden – the skeletal infrastructure – and a site assessment at this time can give us new insights into what works and what doesn’t. Identify sectors, look at how growth over the past year may have changed conditions, think about priorities for the coming season. Hooray for spring!

heavy snow on firs

Creating a Winter Snow Sanctuary for the Birds

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Wow. We got hammered with the snow! Mild compared with the Midwest, but enough to make me think about how the birds survive in this crazy winter weather! Here are some ideas on how to help them survive.

So many seed catalogs

The Plant & Seed Purchasing Strategy

Yay for Seed Catalog Season! In this post, I share the secrets of my Seed Purchasing Strategy, which enabled me to cut my seed wish list down to an almost manageable number! I also share with you my actual seed and plant order. Did I succeed? Or am I absolutely crazy? You be the judge!

Reflections and raindrops

2018 Highlights; 2019 Goals, Strategies, and New Beginnings

It is that time again to reflect over the year’s ups and downs, an exercise that has become cliché but that can still be quite helpful. It was a busy year! Here is a quick summary of what went down (or up, as the case may be) at Barbolian Fields, along with a few goals and strategies for the coming year. What will 2019 bring? What will we be able to do to make the world a better place? How will we help one another? How will we heal our planet? We can start by getting back to the garden.

Red Flowering Currant, Ribes sanguineum

April Garden Survey: To Do or NOT To Do…

It’s another drippy day in the Pacific Northwest. What to do … or not …  that is the question.

April is National Gardening Month. The blogs are full of To-Do Lists on what you should be doing if you had your act together (which is making this overachiever feel like a real slacker). What is truly feasible? How to find balance? Taking an April Garden Survey is a good procrastination technique. In this post, I explain my strategy for this year’s garden (and for minimizing my workload) and take a look around at what is up and blooming.

Victory Gardens for Change

The fact is, the greatest changes come from people, not from government. Now is the time to bring back the Victory Gardens of yesteryear. We can change the world, one garden at a time — together.

Garden Journal – Do You Have One? How to Make One – and Why?

One of my main goals for the garden this year is to do a better job of tracking things. This post is about ideas for a garden journal, and I would be very interested in hearing from my readers as to what works for them.

It seems that garden journals fall into two categories: those that are more like Planners and serve as guidelines, schedules, and a means of recording results for production gardens and small farms – and those that are more like Art Journals that document not only observations but also a spiritual journey, sometimes with a bit of flair and whimsy thrown in for good measure.

In the past, I have been on the practical, production side of things – make that, borderline fanatic about recording stats on the garlic crops, but I have always fallen short on keeping track of other things. This year, I’d like to try something different and make something that will be fun to look back on.

Seed Order Madness – and Indications that You Might Have ISOD

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Alternate Title: Garden Visions and Realities: Creating a Practical Seed Order – or not.

Seed Order 2016

Do we have enough seeds yet?

I originally wrote this post shortly after Groundhog Day, when we were just praying for a ray of sunshine and a shadow – and here we are now caught in the middle of March Madness, aka the Ides of March, which is called that for good reason. Winds have been howling at 65 mph (I kid you not) and the rain hammers us in torrents. This is how winter quickly melts into spring.

The pre-spring storms give us a bit of time to flip through all the new garden catalogs that have arrived since the beginning of the new year. It is, indeed, the perfect time to create this year’s garden vision and a concrete plan to make it happen, if you have not done so already.

So – tell me – have you placed your seed order yet? Read More »Seed Order Madness – and Indications that You Might Have ISOD

What Worked – or NOT – in the 2013 Garden

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Winter Garden, Vincent Van Gogh: Buy through affiliate link at Art.com

Winter Garden, by Vincent Van Gogh (it looks like a dark and twisted place, does it not? You needn’t go there.)

It’s Garden Planning Season, and you know what THAT means: deep introspection to determine what worked and what didn’t, because unless you incorporate what you’ve learned into this year’s garden, you will be going forth with an impending sense of doom….

The winter is not that dark. Seriously. Lighten up already!Read More »What Worked – or NOT – in the 2013 Garden

Garlic Planting Conundrums – Part 3

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This is my final post in this Garlic-Planting Conundrum series – and by now you probably think I am beating this whole thing into the ground. But I wanted to share a few practical things about figuring out your space needs and preparing the planting area, particularly under less-than-ideal conditions. Now is the time to think about next year, and with some forethought, you can save yourself a lot of work!

In this post I talk about

  • Figuring out how much garlic you should grow and how much space you will really need
  • Mulching and tilling – or not
  • What kinds of tools will help you get the job DONE (and which ones can you throw in the brambles)
  • Alternative planting methods, and do they work?
  • The nitty-gritty of building beds.

Read More »Garlic Planting Conundrums – Part 3

Garlic Planting Conundrums, Part 2

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Garlic Planting Conundrums, Part 2, in which we ask, where can you fit garlic in a permaculture landscape, what about companion planting with garlic, and what is the most efficient way to grow really great garlic?

So, in my earlier post, we talked a bit about figuring out where to plant the garlic from year to year, and how it can be a lot of work to break new ground and turn it into something soft and loose enough to grow a well-rounded, firm, disease-free, long-lasting, ultimately flavorful head of garlic, which is what we’re all after, right?Read More »Garlic Planting Conundrums, Part 2

Garlic Planting Conundrums – Part 1

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I’ve written several articles about planting garlic, growing garlic, miserably failing at growing garlic, harvesting & curing garlic, and yes, eating garlic – and I have wanted to use the word, “Conundrum” in the title of every one of them. True.

Garlic SignBut here’s what happened: I stopped by our local farm store the other day to pick up some bone meal, and a big sign on the door proclaimed (see sign to the right) …

“You’re tellin’ me! I need to get my act together,” I thought, as I pushed through the door. Read More »Garlic Planting Conundrums – Part 1

What’s to Eat?

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Bee on Leaf
“What’s to eat?”

It’s a phrase that brings me back to when my teenage kids would hang for long periods on the open door of the refrigerator

As we approach late summer, I, too, have to ask, “What is there to eat – for the bees?” (And for that matter, what’s to DRINK? Are their water sources still available?)Read More »What’s to Eat?

Plant and Seed Quest 2013

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Ok – so the truth is, I just cannot narrow it down. I have spent days and days looking at websites of different nurseries and purveyors of exotic seeds – and I have spent months and months reading about plants and planning different guild arrangements and compiling “wish lists” that rivaled the loving letters I used to send to Santa Claus – and I, much like our dear friends (ahm) in Congress, cannot seem to reconcile the expenses with the budget. And, like them, the debate goes on and on – because my vision does not coincide with reality, which I am still trying to define, in terms of the vision, of course. It’s a loop-thing. As is life.

And so I took a break to try to put it all back together in the Willow Room, because even in winter, this is a good place to go see how things with a little creativity, intertwine. (Besides, it was time to do a little pruning.)Read More »Plant and Seed Quest 2013

Seeds for Trade

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A list of seeds I collected last fall – and also some roots and tubers. Care to trade? Buy? Barter?

Garden Resolutions, Goals, and To-Dos for 2013

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Personally, I think New Year’s resolutions are over-rated and goal-setting can be counterproductive. A To-Do list, though, Yes! Break it down into action items! Here’s what’s in store for the garden!

Plant ON, Plant People!

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Is it too late to plant spinach? When should you plant tender veggies? What to plant? Did you miss your planting window? Or is it just opening? These questions and more, not necessarily answered.

Tracking the Sun

Hooray! It’s officially spring! Days are getting longer than the night – finally! Here are some cool tools to help you track the way the sun changes with the seasons and some ideas on how to apply that info to your garden design.

Is Your Garden Boring? (The Food-Forest Solution)

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Has winter exposed your garden as a bunch of boring rectangles and squares? Do you wish it more replicated real life, running in circles? There is help for people like us. Work WITH nature to transform your labor-intensive squares into a self-supporting food forest.

Death by Garlic, Revived by Kale

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February is a weird month – we get a little bit of everything in the weather department. We do a lot of fantasizing through seed catalogs and are anxious to get our hands back in the dirt. When the winter blues & blahs get you down, our latest kale recipe, “Death by Garlic, Revived by Kale,” is sure to bring you around.

A Somewhat Unconventional Garlic Garden

I tried a little unconventional approach to this year’s garlic garden. I built the beds in a series of circles around nitrogen-fixing shrubs and a meandering form that looks a lot like my life – er, I mean, a whirligig. Whatever. I was lost.

Garlic Planting Planner

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Having trouble figuring out how much garlic you can plant in your garden? Or maybe how much garden you need to plant all your garlic? I’ve created a little tool in Excel that will do all the math for you – leaving you more time to get down and get dirty in the garden! Check out the Barbolian Fields Garlic Planting Planner.

Self-Imposed Limitations, Sustainability, and Creatively Breaking Rules

I’ve hit a turning point. Actually, several of them. In the process, I’ve been examining my self-imposed limitations, my concept of sustainability, and why now is the best time to break a few rules. Another lengthy psycho-analysis post of how our gardens teach us much about life and visa versa – and what to do about it.

Square Foot Gardening and Getting a Grip on What You Really Need

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Want to grow more food in less space with less effort? The “All New Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew has the approach you might be looking for. With gas headed skyward, putting away the tiller and growing what you need makes a lot of sense. 100% of the harvest at 50% of the costs, 20% of the space, 10% of the water, 5% of the seeds, and 2% of the work – that makes it a no-brainer.

Lasagna Gardening and the Great Mulch Cover-up

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“Lasagna Gardening” – heard of it? read it? Here’s my review of the book and a take on a method that heaps organic matter on top of weeds and lets you kick back while nature does the work. Also a tip on slug control that doesn’t involve squishing them with your bare hands or watching them shrivel under salt.

Garden Planning Season

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Blame it on Seasonal Affective Disorder if you wish, but this is the time of year when many of us otherwise-very-reasonable people succumb to buying seeds for things we know we don’t have room for or can’t possibly grow in our zones. We need to get real. A strategy. A garden PLAN. I’ve been reading a lot of books this winter and am passing on some cool ideas – obviously, not my own. This post is an introduction.

Garden Planning 2011: Some Successes from 2010

Time to plan this year’s garden! In this post, I share a bunch of pictures of plants I grew from Renee’s Garden Seeds – things like poppies, morning glory, larkspur, yellow pole beans, beets, kohlrabi, and more. These will definitely be on my “grow again” list.

Buying Seeds: Garden Planning Reality Check

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Ha! Wasn’t that incredibly irresponsible of me in my last post??? I mean, I’m talking to people quite possibly stuck in a snowbank, and I blithely (as I can do so very well) flaunt our blooming crocuses and say, “Here are some fantastic catalogs – a little retail therapy will do you good!”
Whoaa – whoaa – whoaa….
We need to review the Reality Check Blues Rules! Here are some things to keep in mind when you go shopping for seeds!