Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Our 2014 Seed List and Companion Planting Plan

We finished our seed list last night. We still need to search out and think more about the plants, potatoes, and garlic. Last year we just planted some organic potatoes we bought at the store that started sprouting – but there is a variety in the High Mowing catalog that I would like to try (German Butterball) which is an heirloom variety and looks delicious. We only had success with russet last year, but I love yellow potatoes in soups.

We are going to give turnips and parsnips a try since they would be more crops that could store well in winter. We are going to end up eating seasonally for the most part, mainly because that’s what makes sense when you want to let your garden feed your family. I can’t expect to eat fresh tomatoes in February, but I might have a good store of winter squash and root vegetables, plus some frozen green stuff (green beans, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts…) and canned tomatoes for soups.

Our seed list is long. It includes a few perennial varieties that we shouldn’t have to buy again, like herbs, some flowers, and rhubarb and asparagus. But we are hoping to save some seeds for next year – which will be tricky or impossible with the likelihood of cross pollination in our small garden, but we won’t know until we try.

The total cost of the seeds is two weeks of my food budget. Since it is intended to reduce our food budget by growing us food, that’s where it comes out of. So we’ll be eating from the cupboards for a couple weeks, which will not be suffering since we have plenty in there.

I’ll be praying a lot this year for our garden. We are going into the realm of the “I hope we researched and prepared enough”. In the past, we didn’t have big goals with our gardening. We didn’t really put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make it succeed because we wanted to see what worked and what didn’t and just do our best – it was treated like a hobby so that we could test things out. This year, we want this to work! And I know it’s a lot to bite off. But even if we had to buy our seed every year, using only two weeks of the food budget to potentially raise enough produce for a year, would be SO worth it.

If we do it wisely and keep our heads on our shoulders, and if God chooses to bless our efforts and cause our garden to be fruitful, this doesn’t have to be back breaking work or incredibly time consuming. Planning out the seed starting will keep me from a constant state of wracking my brain for what is next and it will keep us on schedule without re-checking our pile of seed packets every week. Starting by making sure the soil is in good health will mean less pests because of healthy strong plants. Mulching like crazy will reduce weeding and make a beautiful garden. Companion planting and intensive planting will help plants flourish the best, cover the ground to aid in weed suppression, and use less space for more food. And if we like how it goes this year, we can keep the schedule, and mimic the garden with some rotation - so much less planning for future years!

But guys…

This is CRAZY! I’ve got 63 varieties I’m ordering. I’m nuts! But that $2.50 seed packet for enough squash seeds to feed us for a year seems more logical than buying the squash for $4 a piece. Doesn’t that make sense? And if we are going to garden most of the way, we might as well go all the way and garden for as much as we need – and then some! Right? What's another 2 feet of garden that is heavily mulched?

Yay! I finished a book!

I finished Born-Again Dirt. It influenced our seed choices. Here are only a few take away things from the book:

  • Be fruitful! Not just sustainable. So we are planting knowing that there will be some increase to give or sell. If we have a good gardening method and love this, we might like to have an accessory garden stand in the summer to sell the excess. If this could help our family financially, and help our neighbors with healthy reasonably priced foods, we’d love that!
  • Make it beautiful! God made things beautiful, so we want to take the time to make our area that we are stewarding beautiful as well. We are planting beneficial and just plain pretty flowers this year – not a ton because I’m not too motivated of a flower gardener – but some. But we are also trying to take good care of what we have, by putting things away and finishing things (which we often fail at). We were really touched when someone at the dumb went out of their way to comment that it’s nice to see that we care about how things are looking as well as how they are functioning. This was at a time when there were no flowers, we just put up the fence, the kids outdoor toys were littered across the lawn, and we were still trying to get everything finished for winter – but we had taken the time to put away as much as time aloud at the moment. It’s not all about flower gardens, it’s about how we manage what we already have. Sometimes it gets away from us, but we just keep working at it.
  • Do it according to God’s design as much as possible! Cows naturally eat a diet of grass – so we rotate them and exclusively grass feed them at the moment. God generally placed ground cover, prairie grass, other grass, “mulch” on the floor of the woods – these protect the nutrients in the ground below and protect against erosion, so we’ll mulch or cover the garden as much as possible.
  • Diversify! Creation is diverse and different things benefit from each other. Multiple animal species can help each other, combinations of plants can help each other (absence of mono-culture). This also means that if one crop fails, you still have others that will hopefully thrive.
  • Pray, seek wisdom, depend on God, place appropriate priorities, design well, be humble, do it the best you can (instead of rushing to check it off the list), praise God for His provision and when things work out...

Some of it we were already doing. We’ve always wanted to Glorify God in our homesteading and you can come to some of the above methods from learning from others who do it according to nature – but then choosing to understand it from the perspective that God created it all, and it was good. Humans were called to manage creation, in a responsible way (including being sustainable for future generations), and there are good work ethic principles that helped the homesteading too.

So, we are trying to companion plant again. I love my Carrot’s Love Tomatoes book for this. When I made the seed list, I organized it according to where it would be planted. Each section is what would go well together. If you would like to take a look, you’ll see our companion planting plan and the specific seeds we chose.

We decided that as long as they aren’t GMO, we don’t need to buy certified organic seeds. We settled on sticking with Baker Creek for seeds. They have a really low shipping – just $3.50 per order! I can handle that! Baker Creek is all about heirloom seeds, are non-gmo and have many rare varieties. I loved their presentation and their information on the seeds. We trust Baker Creek from what we’ve read. Non-GMO and non hybrid is important if we want to save seeds. We can’t spend time researching everything in detail, so Baker Creek essentially did some of that researching for us – from our perspective – by being a very selective seed company.

Some of my favorite seeds this year? The native varieties from this country – Cherokee Purple, Sioux and Jersey Giant Tomatoes, and the corn we are getting. Also the French varieties and rare varieties that are seldom grown outside of Europe. I’m also excited for some old world flowers.

So there you have it. I’ve got to wrap up the homestead schedule for January and tie all the loose ends together, but we are in February and our focus this month will be Bees and getting ready for calving!

I have to finish the seeds starting list

I can hardly believe it! There will be a lot of prayer over here: that the calving goes well, that I can get a good routine with Buttercup and milking, that the garden goes well, that we catch some bees – because we can’t order any this year – and that we stay on top of things.

Disclosure: Michelle Brown is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Linked up at:

The Self Sufficient HomeAcreFrom The Farm Blog Hop
Earthworms and MarmaladeManic Mother

Melissa K. Norris Pioneering Today


  1. This post is so inspiring for me as a future homesteader :) My guy and I are saving money this year to purchase a home/land at the end of the year, with goals of having a farm up and running in early 2015. This year is all about practice, so I'm planning on growing my first garden to sustain us where we live now. I am completely in awe of all your planning! We have a very late freeze date this year, so I don't need to start my seedlings until mid-March, but all this planning inspires me to get to work! Best of luck on your garden this year, I hope it fills all your wishes!

    1. Wow! That is awesome for you guys! I really wanted this blog to be an encouragement to other new homesteaders and I'm so happy you let me know. :-) I'm actually behind on onions! I really should have started the onions in January because I wanted to start them from seed instead of using sets. But I'm also looking into extending the growing season with hoop houses and cold frames. So I think if I start the seeds ASAP, I can get the onions to pull through how I would like them.

  2. My sister just bought Carrots Love Tomatoes! I can't wait to get started companion planting!

    1. I don't think she'll be disappointed. I reference it all the time and pull it out for all sorts of things! I'd rather plant a companion plant that will help deter pests than try to spray with some homemade concoction that washes off with the rain!

  3. Wonderful plans! Thanks for sharing on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you again tomorrow!

    1. Thanks! I had to do a double take because your name is close to my sister's! Lol. I'll try to "hop" over and share another. ;-)

  4. You're not nuts, you're just a gardener. Its a fine line. Thanks for sharing on Green Thumb Thursday and we hope you come back today!

    1. Thanks for that reassurance. I'm afraid of that fine line though! I've been thinking I should have ordered more... I'm not sure I have another gardening post yet! But I'll look through. We'll be starting a few seeds really soon, and I'm sure my setup will be so hilarious that I'll want to share it. Maybe I'll get a post up tomorrow. :-)




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