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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Scheduling backyard farming projects

Hello, everyone! I hope this last month has felt more productive for you than it has for me. Talk about settling down for a long winter's nap!

I started the new year with grand aspirations of how I was going to be better (diet, exercise, sleep, finances -- you know the drill), but it was too many goals all at once, and my will broke like a tree branch after heavy snow.

I know I do better when I pace myself and identify specific goals for a month at a time. I decided to do this same approach with backyard farming projects. There are many things I'd like to learn about this year -- such as bee-keeping, espalier trees and cold frames -- so I will plan now when to study them. I will also schedule specific projects instead of saying, "Oh, I'll get to them someday." Here on the blog I will share with you what I have studied and present my projects. Perhaps that's my biggest reason of all, to have this kind of accountability. Some of the goals, such as the one I have in November to feature homegrown food at the Thanksgiving table, will inform the choices I make earlier in the year.

Here are my backyard farming goals for the rest of the year, above and beyond the usual projects of tilling and planting the garden:

1. Decrease food spending and food waste through better meal planning. Evaluate all of January's food expenditures (including eating out) for a comparison.
2. Learn about bees in my area, including if city permit is required.
3. Determine planting schedule and quantities for upcoming garden. Remember Thanksgiving dinner goal.

You may wonder how I count food spending as a backyard farming project. Simple. My garden endgame is to provide food for my family. Thus, I hope that patterns of efficient meal planning and avoiding waste will carry over into the months of fresh harvest. Maybe I can even sock away money saved on winter food costs to invest in fruit trees or other plants.

1. Actually set-up indoor seed-starting rack this year! Start veggies from seed.
2. Rejuvenate strawberry patch by digging out plants, culling the strong ones and replacing in improved soil.
3. Learn about espalier methods for fruit trees.

1. Install soaker hoses around raspberries. (I've meant to do this for a decade!)
2. Prune/remove trees, particularly those that infringe on garden areas.
3. Learn about rain collection methods.

1. Make parking strip (land between sidewalk and street) into a garden area.
2. Start more grape vines from cuttings.

1. Learn about increasing tomato yields through pruning.
2. Design and implement a more workable compost area.

1. Study food dehydrators and drying methods.

1. Learn about a worm bin.

1. Do not let produce go to waste. Process the day it is harvested, or give to a neighbor right away.

1. Find a better place in my home to grow herbs indoors.
2. Create a better spot for longterm storage of squashes.

1. Make something for Thanksgiving dinner that came from the garden.
2. Make infused vinegars with herbs.

1. Learn about, and build, cold frames.

I would love to learn of your 2016 garden projects, or what resources you've found valuable for my areas of study this year. Let's all teach each other how to make this year a fantastic one.