Plan your garden now

Books, classes and plants to ponder for High Desert gardeners

By Liz Douville / For The Bulletin

“Anybody who thinks that gardening begins in the spring has wasted the fall and winter.”

— “Don’t Throw In the Trowel”

In January, it seems unrealistic to get excited over gardening, but come the middle of February, I am beginning to feel pressured. The seeds need to be ordered, a new garden plan needs to be drawn out. I need to post a reminder to watch for class schedules, add the book on permaculture to the reading table and find some time to start reading Jeff Lowenfels’ “Teaming with Nutrients.” This is definitely the time to do the brain work; the physical work will be here before we know it.

My seed orders are almost finished. I was disappointed to have discovered if you want a chocolate cosmos, you have to buy the plant. I have checked many seed resources and nary a chocolate cosmos seed have I found. Hopefully our garden centers and plant nurseries have them on their list. The fragrance isn’t overpowering but certainly identifiable. The truth is, I sorta, kinda promised the grandsons I would plant some this summer. Little did I know it was going to turn into a complicated project.

I mentioned in an earlier article I am putting my emphasis on growing dye plant material. That will mean eliminating some of the vegetables. Corn and the few potatoes I eat will be purchased at the farmers market, and I will trust good friends to share zucchini and maybe a winter squash or two.

I always reserve space for tomatoes, cukes, beans and carrots. That will never change. I have always done well with sweet peppers and will keep them on the list.

According to a favorite book, “Great Garden Companions,” a Rodale publication, good companions to peppers are marigolds, and they are on my dye plant list. Those will be the first two items drawn in on the 2014 garden plan.

This is also a good time to remember the problems you had last summer and figure out how you can resolve them. I need to improve the irrigation in the garden. The raspberry plants didn’t get enough water, so I need to improve the irrigation in that area or move the plants. There aren’t that many, so either way the problem should be taken care of while the patch is still manageable.

For newcomers to the area who want to enjoy fresh veggies, I strongly suggest that you invest some time in learning the how-to for High Desert areas. We moved to the area from Anchorage. The thought process was “Whoopee we moved south” — need I say more?

Starting in March there is a plethora of classes being offered by the Oregon State University Extension Service and the Central Oregon Community College Community Education program. All are well advertised and will require registration. The OSU Extension Growing Vegetable classes will be offered at two levels this year, introductory and advanced. OSU classes are listed in the March segment of the calendar at goCOMGA.com. Gardening classes for COCC can be found in the spring edition of the Community Education catalog being released later this month or online at www.cocc.edu/community-learning/.

I have pulled my favorite books from the bookcase and placed them on the table next to my favorite chair. In addition to the “Great Garden Companions” book, I have added “The New Seed Starter” handbook by Nancy Bubel, plus a less than 30 page booklet titled “Starting Seeds Indoors” by Ann Reilly, a Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin. One section that is especially helpful is the tips on seeds that require special treatment.

Permaculture is one of those new terms many of us aren’t familiar with. I have put aside articles and books throughout the past year, and now it is time for study. According to the Upper Deschutes Permaculture Guide, there are “three ethics that are espoused by Permaculture; Earth Care, People Care and Future Care (Fair Share).” I have added “Permaculture in a Nutshell” by Patrick Whitefield to the reading table.

Now let’s keep positive thoughts that winter won’t be in full force in April.

— Reporter: douville@bendbroadband.com