If there’s one thing we’ve learned in our almost three years living on the farm, it’s that the most important part of successful farming is planning! Our first year, we just kinda threw things in the ground and crossed our fingers (granted, I was also extremely pregnant that Spring, so poor Brian had to do all of the work). Last year, we had great intentions. We made a “Garden Notebook” and did research and took notes for the first few weeks... then little by little we forgot about our notes and just kind of “winged it” again. Now don’t get me wrong, we still had successful crops both years; and last year we even ran a mini CSA with some friends! But this year needs to be different. This year, we have an extra mouth to feed... a very hungry little mouth! And we are committed to living as sustainably as possible, growing as much of our own food as we can and preserving as much as possible for the cold season.An important place to start is by setting some goals. Think about what your family eats in a month. What foods do you need to have on hand at all times (i.e. your staples)? What type of growing space do you have?
Here are a few goals we have for this growing season:
- Buy a dozen more chicks to raise and mix in with our current flock. This will allow us to keep our regular egg supply when our 1 year olds go through their molt in the winter. It also allows us the opportunity to sell excess eggs, which in turn will pay for the care of the chickens, making this a completely free operation for us.
- Diligently keep notes about our gardening process. We will learn nothing year to year if we do not do this! Also: build something to keep the dang chickens out of the garden beds in harvest time!
- Do some research on saving seeds, and try this for next year. I’d love to get to the point where we have to buy very few seeds each year to keep our garden going!
- Updatee farm machinery. Tilling three large garden beds by hand is great exercise, but really not the greatest use of time. Keeping an eye out for equipment and tractors for sale, especially in the off season, is something we need to do.
- Preserve as much of the harvest as I can for the winter/early spring. Do research on items that are better to purchase in bulk for preservation than to grow ourselves.
- Plant medicinal herbs that double as “attractive” plants for the yard. Flowers are pretty by themselves, of course, but if they can also be useful, that’s even better! Along with this - research drying herbs, making teas, herbal remedies, etc.
Sounds like a good place to start, huh? Now, I’m off to order seeds and design an easy-to-use gardening planner.
What are your goals for gardening this year?