Cuddle up with seed catalogsFeb 22, 2021 02:14PM ● By Paige Slaughter
Designing your garden: Part II(read Part I here)
Biomimicry is the practice of looking to nature to solve problems in a regenerative way and is rewarding on so many levels. For me, it continues to inspire awe in the power and resiliency of natural systems and life.
As you think about your garden and how you want to design it this year, ask how you can work with your environment, rather than against it. How does it all fit together?
Rather than forcing your garden to be what it’s not, embrace it and plan your garden accordingly. Accept shady spots (plan to grow greens and tender herbs), rocky soils (try lavender or Columbines) and cement areas (potted plants are friends!).
Understand your own needs. How can gardening help you tend to what matters most? Prioritize your joy and wellbeing, and your garden will likely be more rewarding.
• Succession planting
This means planting seeds and plant starts throughout the season rather than all at once to give you a longer and more abundant harvest. Planning out what you’ll plant, when and where will maximize your space and help you remember all the plantings!
Choose a diverse mix of crops. Cold-season and quick-growing plants will extend the season and keep soils covered and productive. Quick-growing crops sowed regularly in small amounts will allow you to enjoy harvests throughout the season.
In your planning, think about vertical space as much as the ground area. Consider pairing different plants that will grow together harmoniously.
• Trust your intuition
So much about gardening is intuitive. The more we practice the act of trusting our intuition, the more we become in tune with it and become better gardeners along the way. If you have an idea or inclination, follow it. A little research can help us turn our inklings into solid plans and our tiny curiosities into big discoveries.
• Prepare the soil
Everything above ground starts with the health of the ground underneath. Once the soil is workable and you’re ready to start sowing seeds, prepare your garden beds by loosening compacted soil, mixing in compost and amendments, leveling the soil and watering lightly to help it all settle in. If you’re feeling fancy, get a soil test and see what amendments might benefit your soil.
Seed catalogs educate us on new and classic varieties of plants, display images that help us visualize our gardens before we bring them to life, and offer tools for planning gardens that are more abundant and resilient. Here are some of my favorites:
• Johnny Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds is full of lovely illustrations and a good selection of vegetables, herbs and flowers. None of their seeds are treated with chemicals, and their entire collection is non-GMO.
• Seed Savers Exchange is a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of heirloom seeds. Their mission is to conserve and promote America’s culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crops for future generations by collecting, growing and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.
• Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. offers one of the largest selections of 19th-century heirloom seeds from Europe and Asia. Their catalog is full of gorgeous photos and rare finds.
• High Desert Seed + Gardens is based in Montrose. Laura Parker and her team are committed to growing open-pollinated seeds in the high desert. Getting seeds from a local source like High Desert supports biodiversity and regional resiliency. Locally grown seeds will be better adapted to our high-altitude climate, making them more drought-tolerant, cold-hardy and robust.
• Wild Mountain Seeds is a seed breeding and food production research farm located in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley. The harsh alpine climate gives them the unique opportunity to adapt seeds to extreme conditions where performance is essential.
• Strictly Medicinal Seeds is rich with insight about different medicinal and culinary herbs and flowers. Their selection is vast and unique, and they offer an amazing number of different cultivars. Incorporating herbs into your garden plan adds diversity to your landscape, invites beneficial insects and gives you the opportunity to explore herbal medicine, make herbal teas and dry your own culinary herbs.
• Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance is a wonderful nonprofit working to assure an abundant and diverse supply of local seeds for the region through education, networking and establishing community-based models of seed stewardship. Take a look at the resources and programming they provide, including a list of regional seeds online, at www.rockymountainseeds.org/find-seeds.
Enjoy the vastness of possibility as you cuddle up with catalogs and dream about your garden, remembering how dynamic it can be.