Spring Prep

Spring is barreling at us full-speed-ahead, thank goodness!

It's time to get the gardens, raised beds, and compost prepped for next week, when we'll begin planting in Better Farm's greenhouse.

There are a lot of moving parts involved with keeping several gardens going, so it helps around here to keep a careful to-do list in order to make sure everything gets taken care of. From seed selection to dirt prep to planting, here's what we'll be busy with in the next few weeks.

All the Moving Parts
Our garden map has been a huge help keeping ideas organized for seed selection, companion planting pairs, and placement. This year we'll also be keeping track of how much food in pounds we produce; and the cost-effectiveness of keeping backyard birds for mini-tilling, egg production, and garden fertilization. Here are the other pieces to the puzzle:

Pasteurization of Compost
We blogged earlier in the week about the importance of pasteurizing any compost you plan to start seeds in, in order to prevent a harmful phenomenon called "damping off" and the sprouting of any errant seeds from your compost heap.

Seed Selection
This week we ordered our seeds, which will arrive in the next 4 to 6 days. Here's what we've got to plant:

Herb Beds 
Amaranth, Arugula, Asparagus, Chia, Chives, Cilantro, Cumin, Dill, Garlic, Lemon Balm, Lettuce, Marjoram, Mint, Mustard Greens, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Spinach, Swiss Chard

Main Garden
Artichoke, Asparagus Bean, Beets, Black Beans, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cannelini Beans, Cauliflower, Carrot, Celery, Chick Peas, Corn, Cucumber, Edamame, Hubbard Squash, Kale, Kidney Beans, Leek , Lentils, Onion, Peanuts, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Radishes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Watermelons

Mandala Garden
Artichoke, Cantaloupe, Eggplant, Lavender, Marigolds, Mulberry Trees, Nasturtiums, Okra, Pumpkin, Rhubarb

Lettuce, Spinach, Various Herbs

Alfalfa, Broccoli, Chia

Grounds Prep
With a mulch garden outside, four big raised herb beds, and an aquaponics setup, there's a lot of ground to cover and enrich. As soon as some of this snow gets going, the chicken tractors will begin their migrations throughout the gardens so the birds can get things good and turned over between now and June. More hay will also be added to the rows (along with the compost heap that's been working itself over all winter.

The herb beds will be raked out (we've been mulching with wood chips and hay throughout the winter) to allow space for garlic, leeks, chives, mint, and asparagus to re-assert themselves.

The aquaponics pea gravel will need to be cleaned, the filters changed, and a new round of greens planted.

Next week we'll get a big chunk of our seeds into potting soil and out to the greenhouse. Peas will go directly into the ground in mid-March, and (weather permitting), direct-plant seeds will go into the garden in late May and early June. Potatoes will go into dirt in April.

If you are interested in volunteering in Better Farm's gardens once or on an ongoing basis, please contact us at info@betterfarm.org.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.