If you’ve been struggling with motivation for gardening because it seems so overwhelming, I invite you to read today’s post for a different perspective and see what my new vision for my 2023 garden looks like.
I’ve got to tell you, when I thought about the garden this year, I was feeling burned out and uninspired.
Toward the end of the summer in 2022, I had found out I was pregnant. Such exciting news! Of course, when you get that positive pregnancy test, you start dreaming and planning and I’m no different. Quickly, I calculated the baby’s guess date to find it was mid-April.
And if you’re a gardener, you know that that is a very busy time for gardening. For me, in zone 7b, that can mean starting some of the last seeds indoors while also transplanting some seedlings or sowing directly in the ground for some of those cooler season crops.
My first thought was, “Great! I’m going to have a baby and that’s the perfect excuse not to do the garden.” It was instant relief and that was a big eye-opener for me with that being my knee-jerk reaction.
Unfortunately, we miscarried at 12 weeks and to be honest, I just never truly got my desire back to think about the garden.
Problems with My Old Garden
There weren’t really many problems per say, other than the fact that I was feeling overwhelmed. I actually enjoy starting seeds, transplanting seedlings, some harvesting, and just having the excuse to be outside for the early gardening months. Such glorious weather!
On the other hand, I never looked forward to watering every day. We do not have any irrigation system (yet!) and so, spending a good half hour watering in the mornings would feel like it was getting in the way of other things.
Also, we live in a very warm and humid climate. I’m not sure if it was just the plants we decided to grow in the area or what, but for years we’ve battled with tomato hornworms and cucumber beetles. Putting all that time into your tomatoes and cucumbers for them to be taken over by a pest, is frustrating to say the least. Although we did have a little harvest, of course you want more.
Lastly, my biggest pain point was the preservation process. Let me clarify that not all produce has to be a big process, but the vegetables we were choosing to grow were an all-day event. Canning tomato sauce without all the proper equipment can take over your weekend. I had simply lost my joy in gardening.
Things We Considered for Our New Gardening Vision
- Are the crops we’re growing going to give us bang for our buck? As a homemaker, my ultimate goal is to be able to provide for my family. Since 2020, I’ve really concentrated on preparedness and being a little more self-sufficient. I want the plants I grow to reflect those things. Moving forward, I am concentrating on foods that provide sustenance for my family.
- Is the produce we’re growing easy to preserve? As I mentioned, preserving was my biggest struggle. Yes, I’ve canned before, but it’s not second nature for me just yet and for now, it feels like a daunting task. Once I started dreaming up other things that just needed to be cured and kept in in a cool place, it sounded WAY more doable.
- How much space do my crops take up? For right now, we have 4 raised garden beds in our backyard. That does not give us much room to work with. Ultimately, my goal is to grow a year’s worth of food for my family, but I’ve got to make do with what I have. That means, if possible, to grow things that provide us with a big harvest.
My New Vision For the 2023 Garden
With all those factors in mind, here is a list of all the things we plan on growing this year (in order of importance for us):
- Potatoes: For a family that goes through a lot of potatoes, we just never took the plunge to grow them. This year we’re going to attempt to grow them and they’re super easy to store once you harvest them. They require storage in a cool, dark place. I imagine growing in a garden bed will provide A LOT of potatoes, but we shall see.
- Onions: They do take up some space, but we use them a lot and all you need to do is cure them and store them in a cool dark place. I have been able to grow a year’s worth of onions in the past. I’m shooting to plant about 80-100 onions this year.
- Garlic: This is another crop that I’ve loved growing and will continue to grow. I basically plant in the fall and maybe water them for a few weeks as they sprout. But ultimately, I plant them and forget about them until June when I can harvest them. These require curing and storing in a cool, dark place. This last year we got a year’s worth of garlic from our garden by planting about 50 cloves. We’ve planted the same amount this year.
- Pole Beans: This year, the pole beans will be a huge experiment. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to grow. I had looked into the difference between bush and pole beans still wondering which would fit our needs. Our goal with beans was to be able to pick them fresh, but also to be able to dry them for pinto beans. My husband has Mexican influence in the dishes passed down to him and so refried beans can be a basic side for any meal of the day in his opinion. Not to mention, if you look back at older cultures, many of them incorporated some sort of bean to grow in their region. They’re nutrient-dense and easy to grow.
- Squash: This is another thing I’m uncertain of how it’ll go. Looking back at how we eat as a family, we don’t tend to gravitate toward squash. But we do enjoy it. We’ll see how it goes. The type of squash we got would be great for desserts, as a side, or in a soup. It’s easy to store and will produce a lot. It’s very filling and easy to preserve.
- Carrots: Carrots do take up a little room, but you can do succession planting to help with that. We use carrots in so many of our recipes and it’s such a quick, easy, and healthy snack. Just store your carrots in a cool, dark place for safe keeping.
The Specific Varieties I Purchased:
- Yellow Parma Onions
- I’m not sure of the garlic. I bought from someone at the farmer’s market year’s ago.
- Yukon Gold Potatoes
- Greasy Grit Pole Beans
- North Georgia Candy Roaster
My New Vision For the 2023 Garden Video
Other Things To Consider
If you’re looking at making your garden easier, putting an irrigation system in will help the garden work for itself. We plan on doing that this year.
Another thing is to incorporate perennials into your garden space. You plant it and forget it (to some extent). We’ve really enjoyed our blueberry bushes as they continue to produce more each year. I planted some rhubarb at the side of our house and this year is the first year we get to harvest it!
Next to the rhubarb, I’m going to add some sage. Sage will be great not only as a culinary ingredient, but it’s also very medicinal. A lot of herbs you can keep year-round, just make sure to bring them inside if there’s a risk of frost.