And yes, I do have one, sort of.
I now have lettuce, arugula, spinach, beet greens, sugar snap peas, kohlrabi, and Swiss chard planted in the garden, as well as the garlic I planted last fall. All this a good month before the last expected frost date around here, and when the gardening books say such crops should be planted. The norm for northern Minnesota is plant everything Memorial Day weekend or later, whether it is frost tolerant or tender annual. Didn't the early settlers here ever hear of the wonders of picking the first salad greens in May? Apparently not, but I would not miss it for the world.
So my first strategy of the year is early. This is the first year I have had so much garden space available so early in the spring, and I plan on utilizing succession planting, which the early settlers also apparently did not know about. I'll give them a break; they were hard working folks, who did not have the leisure of garden "experiments" when they needed every square inch of garden space for survival. So they went with the tried and true.
While weeding some of last year's garden beds, the ones that did not have enough plant cover to inhibit weed growth, I started thinking of my second strategy: mulch. I should be out right now, raking and collecting leaves, pine needles, and whatever else I can find to keep the weeds at bay, and also a perhaps more important function, to keep the soil moist. The disadvantage of raised beds is that the soil tends to dry out quickly. I just compared my garlic bed, which I mulched heavily right after planting the bulbs, with the other more exposed raised beds. The soil was nice and moist right underneath the leaves, while I have had to water the greens bed daily.
While I'm on the M's, I'll bring up my third strategy: manure. The horses provide plenty of it; last year I filled most of the garden beds with aged manure hand-dug from the horse pasture. The only problem with that is the work involved, especially since the horse pasture is a long haul from the garden. We may have a friend come with a tractor and do some of the work. The Hermit has been looking at tractors to buy as well. Ah, men and their toys.
With a little bit of a stretch I can keep up the M motif with my fourth strategy: days to Maturity. I learned the importance of selecting short-season varieties last year, when we were hit with frost in August, just as my Kentucky Wonder pole beans were starting to set pods. The other pole beans I planted, Ohio Cutshort, had just begun to flower. I did some research later and found that Ohio Cutshort took at least 85 days to produce beans. That just won't do around here. While last year I was trying to save space by planting pole beans with squash underneath, this year I will have to take up more garden space and plant earlier maturing bush beans.
Speaking of more, that brings up my fifth strategy, which is...more. More raised beds, more of everything, because I have never had too much of anything from the garden. Yes, even zucchini and tomatoes. Of course I realize that will mean more work for me, but there is a certain minimum amount of effort required just to have a garden; planting six beds instead of three does not necessarily double the work involved. In theory, anyway. I never keep track, and I don't intend to start.
Some time after the first frost next fall, I predict I will look back on this post and have a good laugh. "What was I thinking!"