2022 Gardening Lessons Learned and my 2023 Planting Plan
Updated: Sep 7
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Gardening is such a journey! I've been gardening for a few years now, and every year I learn tons! And I expect to learn something new every year for years to come! I have learned about my growing zone, the specifics of growing conditions for various plants, soil health, and so much more! Just as importantly, I learn about myself! How much work do I want to do every year? What kind of foods do I actually enjoy eating? What kind of foods are good to share with others? Etc. Etc.
For example, this past year, I grew about 20 tomato plants, thinking I would can and store the tomatoes to eat throughout the year. I was successful in both growing and preserving the tomatoes. (See my post here for 3 easy ways to store tomatoes). BUT, I learned we don't actually like to eat that many canned tomatoes or tomato sauces! I have STACKS of whole tomatoes and tomato sauces in our pantry, and the truth is, we just don't use them up like I thought we would. We might use a jar a week, which is a lot, but not enough to go through the STASH I stored away this summer! ALSO, I don't like spending hours every Saturday or Sunday preserving tomatoes! It's just too much! So lesson learned: Don't grow as many tomatoes.
You'd think I would learn, but the same thing happened one year with fig jam and another year with pickles. Turns out, no matter how much I love pickles, I just won't eat 6 gallons of lacto-fermented pickles.
All that being said, I'm continuously learning in the garden, and subsequently, in the kitchen.
A few lessons from 2022:
Only preserve reasonable amounts of pickles and tomato sauce.
No more planting squash. I've given up the battle with the squash bugs. They win. Also, I don't like to eat squash very much.
Dry as many herbs as possible! I'd love a few jars of dried basil, oregano, thyme, and parsley. I dried a mason jar of each, but we've used it all up, except our basil (because I had a half-gallon jar full, which seems to be the perfect amount).
Dry more fruit and make less jam as we don't actually eat much jam. But we do LOVE dried fruit!
Plant more garlic! I have yet to plant enough to last us the whole winter without buying more.
Just as I'm continuously learning, I'm continuously changing. Eating and cooking habits change, so I'm always changing my gardening plan.
Different people have different gardening goals. Some people just like access to a bit of fresh produce and herbs during the summertime. This is definitely one of my goals, but along with that, I have a goal of preserving staples for the rest of the year. Foods I plan to grow a lot of and store or preserve for the winter are Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, dried herbs, canned tomatoes, and frozen peas. You can see my growing plan reflects that.
When planning a garden, it's so important to know yourself, your eating habits, how many hours you plan to devote to the garden (or in the kitchen preserving) every week, and your gardening goals! And of course, be ready to adapt and change every year! The first year I gardened, I just threw a bunch of seedlings from the hardware store in the ground! No real plan, no knowledge of how much space, light, or warmth each plant would need. And it was great! Every year, I learn more and become more organized!
My 2023 Gardening Plan:
This plan only includes the plants I plan to start and grow in each month. It does not include a list of garden tasks. See my year-round gardening calendar for that.
I'm in growing zone 7b. We have mild winters and spring comes early.
Start these seeds indoors:
Butter Leaf lettuce
Seeds to start indoors:
Sweet potato (cut sprouts off existing potatoes from the pantry and start in water in the window)
Basil (get a cutting from somewhere and propagate in a window)
Transplant starts outside:
(These plants are all cold tolerant and will usually survive a light frost)
Direct sow in the garden or transplant seedlings outdoors to plant
Potatoes (succession plant every month until July) *
Lettuce (Cover with a cold barrier)
As I said this plan reflects my goals and eating/cooking preferences. In the past, I've grown beans and broccoli and kale, and I've just learned I either don't like eating those plants as much OR they're not worth the garden bed space. Grow what you like!
If you've made it to this point, thank you for reading! I hope you got something out of this post!
If you want to learn more about gardening, read more in the homesteading section of my blog! I have posts on soil health, garden infrastructure like fences, beds, and rain catchment systems, and a gardening calendar!
Let me know a bit about your gardening journey in the comments!