Questions? Write Me at

Questions? Write me at fullcirclegardener @ cableone . net.

Local Gardening Workshops: 2013

Get out your calendars & planners!  Gardening workshops and events are starting to show up and you will want to catch at least one this year. :)

Here some local events for  eastern ND & west central MN.  No matter where you live, be sure to check out your local county extension agency and master gardener programs to see if there are any gardening events or workshops that interest you.  Also check out local home improvement stores & nurseries for gardening events and seminars (many of which are free!).

Feel free to pass on any local garden event you come across and I will add them to the list. :)

University of Minnesota Extension 
This site lists many of the Garden/Horticulture Days that they sponsor/co-sponsor this year.  Check out their list, descriptions and registration information here.

2013 Gardening Saturday  - March 30, 2013
Cost: $25 by March 21 ($35 at door)
Fargo, ND (Loftsgard Hall, NDSU; free parking)
Topics include -Gardening with Herbs, Hardscape Construction, Square Foot Gardening, Beginning Wine Making, Flower Arranging, Shade Gardening and more.  Find more details and register here.

 Moorhead Area Public Schools Community Education has several gardening related classes coming up. See their page for information on individual events.
-Making Your Own Rain Barrel (April)
-Make Your Own Compost Tumbler (May)
-Rain Gardens: Capture the Rain of the Plains (May)
-Composting: Give Your Soil a Boost and Conserve Water (May)

Northern Plain Botanical Society Classes
They list 10 classes scheduled for 2013.  Some are free while others have a fee.  Pre-registration is required to attend any of their workshops.  Limited number of spaces available for some workshops.  Find workshop details, fee and pre-registration infomation here.
-Bulb Forcing - Feb 23, 2013  10-11:30am
-Mini-Garden - Apr 13, 2013 10-11:30am (fairy garden)
-Hardy Roses for our Northern Climate- Apr 23, 2013 10-11am (Speaker: Joe Bergeson of Bergeson Nursery.)
-Garden in a Glove with Kids - Aprl 25, 2013 3-4pm (FREE - geared to kids)
-Concrete Birdbath & Stepping Stones - June 8, 2013 9-11am
-Watercolors in the Garden - July 13, 2013 9-10:30am
-Birds, Butterflies, Beetles and Bugs - July 25, 2013 2-4pm (FREE-geared to kids)
-Herb Harvest - August 24, 2013 9-11am
-Natural Dye - October 5, 2013 9:30-12pm
-Holiday Greenery - Nov 16. 2013 10-11:30am

Fargo Public Library - Spring Gardening Series 
Cost:  FREE
Location:  Main Library

Part One: Great Trees and Shrubs - April 23, 6:30 p.m.  Speaker: Fargo Forestry Dept
Part Two: Square Foot Gardening - April 30, 6:30 p.m. Speaker: Ron Smith (Cass Co Extension)
Part Three: Separate and Propagate - May 7, 6:30 p.m. Speaker: Eric Baker (Owner: Baker Garden & Gift) 
Part Four: Blossom Barter - May 14, 6:30 p.m. (bring healthy plants to share & exchange see details here)

Happy Gardening! :)

What Should I Plant? 6 Questions to Guide Decision Making

I have been in the midst making my planting list and purchasing seeds this week.  In the last month I have spent a lot of time looking through seed catalogs and sales displays, but now it is time to make some decisions.  I have found that it is important for me to have a preliminary planting plan before I make any purchases so that I am not making impulse purchases that leave me short on space for what I really want or I spend money on something that I will not use.

Here are six guidelines that I use to help me decide what I should plant and what seeds I should purchase. 

1)  What are my family's favorite veggies?  
This is my favorite place to start.  Gardening is a complete bust, in my book, if there is nothing to enjoy out of it, not only myself, but also my family.  I love to watch my kids harvest fresh peas and shove those sweet, juicy bites straight into their mouths, and I love the healthy taste-buds they are building too.

"Ice Cream" ;) Favorites
-beans (me!)
-cherry tomatoes (me!)
-pumpkins (for carving)

General Favorite
-peppers (hot)

2)  What plants will give me the biggest bang for my buck?
I look at this two ways.  1) The cost of fresh eating produce and for those I plan on preserving for later use 2) the cost of the product (ex - salsa, tomato sauce, pickles, frozen veggies).  I try to keep my garden organic & chemical free so I compare to the cost of organic produce/products in the store.  This pin on my gardening Pinterest board links to a post that gives some good insight on cost vs production of most common veggies.  I use it as a starting point and also pay attention to the normal and sale prices at the grocery store to help me decide where my biggest bang is.

Fresh Eating
-fresh herbs
-cherry tomatoes
-summer squash

-salsa (tomatoes & hot/sweet peppers)
-hot pepper sauce (hot peppers)
-tomato based sauces (tomatoes/swt peppers/onions/celery/herbs)
-frozen fruit (rasp/rhubarb) 

3)  How much space do I have?
Here is where I decide what are 'must haves' verses 'wants'.  When I was in college and renting, the only space I had was a container or two in the south window.  I was very restricted and kept to what was most enjoyable for me to both grow and eat.  Now that I have a garden space of my own, I have more options but somehow I still never seem to have as much room as I want! ;}  I know that I need to plant more tomatoes and peppers to meet my fresh and preserving needs than I do salad greens.  I also know that I can buy raw carrots at the grocery store for less than I can kohlrabi so if space is tight I'll remove carrots from my plan.  On the other-hand, I have been know to 'create' more space by planting in containers or scattering the more colorful/unique items into my landscaping.

4) How much time/energy do I expect to have this growing season to care for my garden?
If I know I'm going to be gone for the month of July or have an injury that will restrict my ability to care for the garden, it is a good year to cut back to a few items that we will really enjoy or require minimal maintenance or (Gasp! Don't know if I could pull this off!) let the garden rest of the season.

5)  Will I start my own bedding plants from seedlings or purchase them from a garden center?
I can't wait until April/May to get my fingers into the soils so I opt to start my own bedding plants that require a longer growing season (commonly 100+ growing days).  Many common garden plants need to/can be started anywhere from 6-12 weeks prior to my average last killing frost.  If, for some reason I chose to not start my own plants, I would not purchase seeds for those long season plants (most times they say on the back of the package that they must be started inside).

Early Starters for Northern Gardener
-head lettuce 

6)  Are there any fun or new to me/my family additions I'd like to try this year?
I always consider something new or unique to add to my garden.  I find it part of the fun of gardening.  Last year I tried garlic, pole beans & kale for the first time.  Another year I planted a few soybeans to try edamame.  This year I am considering starting some perennial flowers from seed, just for the fun of it. :)

It was good for me think through and put down my thoughts regarding these questions.  Even writing this post has helped me begin to bring all my garden dreams into a plan that will work for myself and my family.   I hope that you have found them as helpful as I have.

Happy Garden Planning! :)

Garden Planning In Progress!!!

I have had the garden bug since long before the calendar flipped over to 2013, but I was able to wait until January 1, 2013 before I opened my first garden seed catalog. ;P  I have since spent many hours dreaming about and planning for the upcoming garden season!  How about you?  Oh how I long for the taste of garden fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peas,.... {DROOL!}

So, what specifically have I been doing?  The same thing I did last year.  I reviewed my garden 'journal', inventoried seeds, made a preliminary 2013 planting plan, did some reading on garden structures (cold frames, green houses, etc.) from one of those free ebooks that have been catching my eye on Facebook, and cruised my Gardening Pinboard on Pinterst over and over.  (Check out my post last January on planning, making notes and reviewing for more details.)

Now, it is already February and it's time to start purchasing seeds since I plan to start my own bedding plants indoors.  I have a fairly large 'To Purchase' list this year.  It includes cucumber, carrot, parsnip, kohlrabi, shell peas, spinach, dill, mint and rosemary.  I also would like to purchase some bedding flower seeds, but that will depend on whether I order seeds or purchase from a local store.

Based on the average last killing frost for my location, May 12, I calculate that my first possible indoor planting date is Feb 17... only twelve days away!!  Wow!  (Fellow North Dakotans see this NDSU Extension link for the frost free dates closest to you, everyone else contact your local county extension agent.) The Indoor Seed Starting and Planting Guide I created will help you figure out when you should start your favorite veggies indoors this year.  If you have never done it before, give it a try!  It is a great way to indulge your garden bug long before the ground has begun to warm up for the season.

I look forward to sharing my gardening journey with you again this year.  :)  I don't plan on posting a weekly 'Plant of the Week' post this year, but be sure to check out previous posts if you are looking of information on a specific plant.  I do hope to get back to my weekly menu post using garden produce and have a weekly harvest post in which we can all share what we are harvesting each week.

Tell me, do you plan to start your own bedding plants this year?  Have you purchased seeds yet?

It is a new garden season and it is full of garden opportunity!  Let us dream big, plan well and encourage each other to make our 2013 gardens a happy, bountiful reality!

Happy Gardening!!! :)