Urban Homesteading on a Small City Lot: Staying Organized, At Least I'm Trying

Friday, March 15, 2013

Staying Organized, At Least I'm Trying

Okay, I have to admit that I am the worst one to try and give anyone advice about staying organized, but I am trying.  I think it can be really important to keep track of what and when and where things were planted, what seeds you bought and/or have and what techniques you have used.  If for no other reason than to avoid making the same mistakes twice.  It also helps you remember what worked really well before so you can remember to do it again.  I have started a few different methods to help me keep track of things.  Originally, this blog was supposed to help me by being a sort of journal, but I have realized that I am not keeping up with blogging everything like I would need to for that to be useful. So I decided to keep a real journal.

This is it. I write everything in it as soon as I do it.  When I plant something, I take the seed envelope or the plant tag directly to the journal and write it down.  I have drawn garden bed plans in it and I also have a master list of all the seeds and plants that I have. I also keep the empty packets and tags after I plant things, just in case I need to refer to them.
I have found a box that is the perfect size to "file" all of my seed packets (empty as well as full) and plant tags.  I keep them organized in groups of related plants and by planting time: earliest in the front, for the most part.

Another big part of staying organized as a gardener is labeling everything right away.  For me it only takes a few minutes before I forget exactly what variety I planted where in a flat of seedling starts, so I label things right away, even before I plant the next row. This year I already have a mystery variety of peas growing.  The first pea seeds I planted were from a small package that didn't even finish a row.  I somehow misplaced the package and I didn't make my master list of seeds until after that day, so I may never know what variety I planted there.  What if those pea plants are the best ones I have ever grown.  I won't know what to buy to repeat them next year.
With any luck I will either find the packet when I clean up, or those peas won't be anything special, so I won't have lost anything.
I am chitting 4 varieties of potatoes in my window.  I though you might like to see some pictures of what is going on with those:
This is a Dark Red Norland seed potato from Irish Eyes seed company.  They are very dirty, but also look very good.

Here you can see all four varieties: Dark Red Norland, Warba "Pink Eyes", Yukon Gold and Russets. I think Pink Eyes is a horrible name for a food item, not very appetizing.  Those potatoes also seem to have very deep eyes, which is not a good thing when you are trying to clean the dirt of of them for eating. They are a white potato.  My mom chose them. They are also from Irish Eyes.  The Yukon Gold I bought at the local feed store and the russets I bought at Bimart.  I have never grown russets before.  I decided to try them this year as an experiment.  I want to see if they are better than the ones at the store and I also want to see if they are better for basement storing.
Many people say don't grow potatoes in your garden if you have limited space, or for that matter carrots either because they are so inexpensive to buy at the store and you aren't saving yourself any money.  I disagree with this philosophy wholeheartedly. I believe that you should grow what you eat most so that you are in control of everything that goes into your body. Besides, does a store bought carrot compare at all to a freshly picked carrot? No.  How can you assign a monetary value to that crisp crunch and sweetness? Store bought potatoes and carrots have been so disappointing to me lately with brown spots inside them and large sections that have to be cut off and thrown away.  Even the Yukon Gold potatoes I bought at Costco two weeks ago had so many problems I ended up having to use almost 50% more potatoes to make the same amount of potatoes au gratin.  Potatoes and carrots are so easy to grow that I can't think why a person wouldn't try to fit them into their garden plans.  The plants are very pretty as well and they come up and fill in bare ground really fast for those people who are concerned with making their garden look good from the street like I am.  I know that it would probably be healthier to eat more leafy greens and less potatoes, but I think that as a starch serving goes fresh, peals on potatoes are pretty healthy.  After all, you can get all of your essential nutrients from a diet of just potatoes and dairy.  I don't advocate trying that, but in a pinch it will do.
Okay, that is enough ranting.  As you can tell I feel very strongly about my potatoes and carrots. Sorry.  Everyone should just grow whatever they want.  As long as you grow what you like and eat what you grow you can't go wrong.
My favorite things to grow, in order of importance to me, are: tomatoes, leafy greens (spinach, collards, kale, lettuces, beets, mustards, etc.), herbs (basil, dill, thyme, rosemary, mint, sage, lavender, cilantro, parsley, etc.), peppers, cucumbers, beans, squash, peas, broccoli, cabbage, onions, beets, carrots, potatoes, garlic, eggplants, sunflowers, celery, artichokes.  Celery and artichokes are last because this is the first year I am growing them and I don't know if I will like them or not. I always grow eggplants because they are beautiful and grow well in containers, but my daughter won't eat them so it is hard for us to eat what we grow.  Not many of our friends and/or neighbors eat them either so it is hard to use them all. I also plant radishes because they grow so fast that it is fun and instantly rewarding. I just planted a rhubarb plant and will soon be planting some asparagus, so we can add those to the list. I think that if you don't grow your own tomatoes or know someone who does, there is no point in eating them.  Those things they call tomatoes at the grocery store are not really tomatoes.  The are bland tasteless grainy imitations. Give me food with taste and personality or none at all.
Woohoo, I finally have my first tomato sprout.  It has been 13 days.  This is a beefsteak.
I also found this collard sprout coming up.  I think I must have dropped one of the seeds down the side when I was planting.  I don't think it will survive when I move the pellets and replant. It might.
Have a wonderful day. Get outside and grow something. It feels great. I hear my chicks calling me upstairs. They are so cute.


  1. Amazing! What wonderful garden plans you have! I can hardly wait to taste it all. :)

    1. When are we going to work on your guys' raised bed at your house. Not that you won't have plenty of produce form our house, but it will be fun to be able to just run outside and pick things yourself when you need it.