Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving and Reflections of the Previous Season

...and of course the season coming up.

It snowed up here in Maine the day before Thanksgiving and now, 2 days later, I sit with time on my hands. This is a very unfamiliar feeling. So I come back here to reflect and write those reflections.

Reflection #1) Buy a few Elderberry bushes and plant out back. Take a look at this page and you will see the motivation behind my wanting to plant some more bushes. I have one next to our pool. It has grown OK for years but the past two years it has gone steadily downhill. I don't know why. I finally give in to the need to get new bushes and plant somewhere else. Earlier this fall I had a flu followed by bronchitis which was then followed by a sinus infection. I haven't been that sick in over 15 years. During that time I thought about elderberry and for good reason. Elderberry is said to be very helpful for flu and cold. Make a hot toddy (hot water, juice of a lemon, honey to taste and then some, and a dash of elder berry syrup). Sip throughout your illness. To help you sleep, add a jigger of whiskey to the hot toddy before returning to bed. Sleep and sweat you will!

Reflection #2) Take more time in the planning and designing stage of the garden. Last year and to be honest, every year, I just plant until I run out of room. How silly of me. A veteran gardener and I still make that #1 mistake. I had plants in my garden that my family doesn't even like. I was just curious about these heirlooms that I planted them. And they took up a lot of precious space. So, to cure this yearly problem I will get out the graph paper and ruler and plan my garden. I'll begin before I order seeds and I will take into account what I can logically harvest, preserve, and share. I'm actually looking forward to mapping next years garden. First I need to make a map of this past seasons so I can be sure to rotate. I usually do map out my garden beds as I'm planting but didn't even do that last year. I'll let you know how this preplanning and designing goes. Watch for a spring time post.

Reflection #3) Preserve more herbs. I let a lot of herbs go by last summer. I used them daily in my cooking but never seemed to take the time to put some by. I now regret that.

Reflection #4) Buy a freezer - There is so much that comes from the garden that can be frozen. Yet due to lack of freezer space I let a lot go by. While we eat a lot and I give a lot away there is still more that can be put up. While I like to can and I do, a freezer would allow me to put up so much more. From summer squash, to green beans that don't make it into my dilly beans, to all the water that is left over from sautéing or steaming veggies, to tomatoes, to fruit....all lovely candidates for the freezer. Buy a freezer.

Reflection #4) Try something new. Last year I tried 2 new varieties of tomatoes, a Russian black tomato and an Italian Heirloom tomato. Both were amazing and will now be staple tomatoes I plant. I also planted some Italian broccoli that I didn't get anything from and the plants were so big! Not sure if it was just the variety or if I somehow managed to have too much nitrogen in my soil (which I highly doubt).

Reflection #5) Plant more onions.

Reflection #6) Try, try, and try again to grow lettuce, spinach, and onion tops throughout the winter months. Figure out the coldframe! The coldframe was great for hardening off plants in the early spring but I really want to figure out how to use it to grow greens throughout the winter months.

Reflection #6) Plant more blueberries.

So that's it for my reflections and goals as of now. I'm sure they will change once I get that map and design going.

Enjoy your garden planning this winter!