Pacific NW Planting Schedule

mustard greens

I’m going to preface this, but it hardly bears mentioning any more that I don’t actually know what I’m doing.  If you want to find people that DO…. (and really, go find the books by number 2 and 3.  I’ve read a LOT of books, and these were astoundingly full of things I’d never heard before.)

Mama Papaya

Louise Riotte

Eliot Coleman

These gals

BUT, I do know how to read, and I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now.  This will be our first year with a real garden- not pots on the deck, not a shady box in the backyard, but an honest-to-goodness, SUNNY, garden.  I’m rather excited to grow kale that doesn’t take 5 months to reach maturity.

The Plan:

February:

In the greenhouse: leeks, tomatoes, basil, cabbage, cauliflower, napa cabbage, brussels sprouts

In the ground: peas and spinach

March:

Transplant: leeks, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, napa cabbage, brussels sprouts

In the ground: potatoes, kale, turnips, beets, green onions, rainbow chard

April:

In the ground: carrots, radishes, nasturtium, cilantro, alyssum, echinacea, morning glory

May:

In the ground: sugar pumpkin, corn, pole beans, cucumber, bush beans, zucchini

June:

In the ground: sunflower

Transplant: basil, tomatoes

July:

In the ground: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, carrots

August:

In the ground: leeks, brussels sprouts, rainbow chard, carrots, turnips

September:

In the ground: spinach, radishes, leaf lettuce, bunching onions (green onions), cover crop of crimson clover?

October:

In the ground: garlic (I might wait longer next year- the garlic I planted last October now has 6″ green shoots.  Made it through our last cold snap alright, though.)

If you know me, you know there is a potentially fatal flaw in this plan: I’m pregnant.  Very, very pregnant.  Due in 6 weeks pregnant.  Which means I’ll have a newborn right at planting time, and a baby strapped to me for months after that.  Luckily, peas and spinach are the only thing that really need to touch dirt in February- all the cabbage crops I hope to start in my mom’s greenhouse are anecdotally difficult, and I have access to several great nurseries.  It wouldn’t be a big deal to simply pick up starts and plop them in the ground in March!

One of our “really want” projects for this coming year is installing a timed watering system (just t-tape and sprinkler heads, or soaker hoses) so that the daily maintenance would be limited to weeding, checking for bugs, and harvesting.  I hope to plant densely enough that after the first few weeks of seed growth, there won’t be much open space/sunlight for weeds to thrive in.  Mulching will help a lot too.

(The other project we want to do is planting a blueberry hedge, and transplanting the raspberries from the back to the front.  Possibly transplanting a plum tree from my mom’s yard.)

Frankly, I’m not sure how this garden is going to mesh with my new “completely pared down and modernized” phase of life I’m in, but my goal is do what’s REALLY important to me and do things that my whole family can help with, and gradually find out what things are important to us and what things we can let someone else do.  Gardens are something I love planning, and I love cooking with really great vegetables and fruits.  I simply melt when I find my kids grazing in the backyard, with fistfuls of snap peas of bowls of black berries.  That education is worth more to me than having pounds and pounds of beans for the table.

 

I’ve linked this up to the Simple Lives Thursday linky party– go check it out!

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US Senate Passes an Overhaul of the Food Safety Regulations

In a weird convergence of topics, I just barely finished Joel Salatin’s book, Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal, last night.  This morning the headline of a New York Times article popped up announcing that the Senate has passed an overhaul of the food safety regulations.

This was my official review of Salatin’s book on GoodReads:

“An interesting read, and he makes some valid points about the difficulties of running a small farm in the current regulatory culture. He takes more personal satisfaction than perhaps appropriate at lambasting government employees who are enforcing the rules to the best of their ability (i.e. not turning a blind eye and letting him do whatever he wants) but still, he makes good points that it hardly seems fair that the rules are at times so vague that a change in personnel can mean the law is interpreted so differently that he now must spend tens of thousands of dollars to keep doing what he’s been doing legally for 30 years. He’s very anti-government, and pro-capitalism. He’d love to return to “Buyer beware” and let the onus of personal safety rest on the consumer, instead of trying to constantly legislate integrity- he has a valid point there, I think, but there are very few consumers who have the time to personally get to know every single food supplier their family would use, and who have the time to drive farm to farm to get their food. His idea of a parallel food culture is interesting- just like homeschoolers can opt out of the governmental education system, he would create a system in which consumers could opt out of the government (USDA, inspected) food system.”

 

OK, so Joel has become a bit of a celebrity in the past few years.  When Michael Pollan contacted him about getting some grass-fed steaks to try out for a book he was writing, Joel refused- he wasn’t going to waste the fuel sending his beef all over the country, you’ve got to come here if you want to eat my steak.  Joel runs a very efficient family farm, replacing expensive water pumps with gravity, compost instead of fertilizer, intensive pasturing instead of buying feed (moving the cows every day, and following behind with chickens to break down what the cows left behind), etc.  He has a lot of unique ideas to expand his farm and business, and under current laws they’re mostly illegal.  Because federal regulations are written about enormous “agri-business” farms, but applied across the board, this often means that small operations are priced entirely out of the game.

I’m curious to see what happens with this new bit of legislation from the senate.  It seems to me that Joel Salatin is correct when he says you can’t legislate integrity.  New layers of reporting is not going to make our food any safer.  If the salmonella comes from the raw cow sludge that industrial farms spray on their crops as fertilizer, wouldn’t you think the answer is to stop using the sludge?  If an e.coli outbreak can spread across the country in a matter of days, wouldn’t you think the answer might address decentralizing food production, so one plant’s mistake can’t sicken people across the nation?

I don’t agree with Mr. Salatin on everything, but he has some valid points: we need to address what is CAUSING the issues, not simply keep putting bandages and more rules every time the natural consequences of the centralized, industrial farming model crop up.  I don’t want to see small farms run out of the business, because industrial farms are making people sick.

And that ends my political rant.