Garden Gate: Winter is coming - ready to garden?

It's December and winter is approaching here in the states. The official end to Fall is less than a week
away. And it's a mere ten days until Christmas.

People aren't thinking about gardening.

I'm not people.

Last summer was my first real attempt at gardening. Oh, I've grown tomatoes and peppers in pots on my deck when I lived in the 'burbs, but I don't count that as gardening. Gardening is what my parents and my grandparents used to do--a patch of the backyard tilled up, followed by planting, weeding, picking, and finally putting up (canning, freezing) the produce.

That's gardening. In the 'burbs, I basically stuck my finger in a pot of dirt, inserted a plant, watered and watched it, and plucked off five cherry tomatoes a few weeks later.

Perhaps my meager gardening attempt of last year wouldn't be considered gardening to some, either--but it was a big deal for me.

I had produce! I made pickles!


Biggest lesson learned? That I don't know what I don't know--and I need (want) to up my game this coming summer.

I need to plan. I need to study. I'm toying with my strategy and vying for a successful growing season in 2020.

As I see it, there are two major things to my advantage.

1. I have last year's experience behind me.
2. I'm retiring from my day job in April.

More time and past experience are excellent advantages, right? This year I got this!

Actually, there are a few more pluses. I have two raised beds in place--one tiered and one elevated. At the end of the season, I purchased an additional elevated bed (more herb planting, I think) now waiting in my garage to be assembled and put to good use. I think next year I'll actually till a patch of ground too. (Glad Dad still has his tiller!)

I had a bumper squash and cucumber crop last year, until a blight hit them both. I failed miserably in the tomatoes and pepper department, however. My kale and spinach simply became rabbit food--I could not keep the bunnies out (I discovered they don't like arugula, though, so there is that).

I attempted a three sisters planting with corn, beans, and squash but since everything got out a bit late in the summer, that was not successful either. Dad said the corn needed more nitrogen, the beans needed better soil, and the squash was all simply planted too late.

Next year will be better.

So, I figure the winter is good for planning. While the cold settles in over the farmland around me, I'll keep snug at home and plot my garden for 2020. I've gathered a few resources. And I've heard seed catalogs should be delivered soon. I'm ready to dig in!

Do you garden? Are you plotting your garden spot as we speak? What tips do you have for this newby?