Planning the garden usually involves a variety of tasks:
- Going over my notes from the prior year (this is where those end of season summaries come in very handy!)
- Preparing a list of veg that I want to grow, including new varieties that I want to try
- Preparing the veg layout for each of the beds - at which point I usually realize that I "need" a few more beds ;)
- Sorting through my seed stash which results in 3 piles - keep, dump (those seeds that I feel may be diseased) & give away (the seeds are good, but I don't want to grow that variety again). If I had old seed, I may test germinate it at this stage too.
- LOTS of catalogue browsing - both paper & online - for the varieties that I need to purchase (and usually a few extra goodies get added to the shopping cart along the way).
- Going back to the garden plan & adjusting it, if necessary, based on my seed purchases.
My plan, however, is never truly finalized as I do have a tendency to make small (or sometimes large) changes as the weeks pass...all the way up to the day of planting or sowing seeds outdoors.
2015 Bed Layout
The red letters beside the beds represent one plant family (or in some cases a group of families) which makes it easier for me when it comes to crop rotation. For example, A= Brassica, B = Solanaceae, etc.
You may notice that I show 4 additional beds (#13 - #16). The plan is to build these on the hilltop in the early spring. At the very least, I will have to do the potato bed by mid-April. The other three beds hold heat-loving plants, so these can be completed as late as mid-May. Thankfully, the hardest part of the job - moving the triple mix to the top of the hill - was done last year.
In addition to the beds, I will also be experimenting with straw bales, using 5 of them to grow both summer & winter squash.
Other Plans for 2015
When it comes to the garden, my general tendency is to think in terms of the overall plan. I know, for example, that I want to have 5 or 6 apple trees. That’s a big expense and a big job, especially with our rocky soil. With so many other things needing to be done, getting those apple trees was always put on the back burner.
And here lies the problem with my train of thought – I always considered this to be a single project. Only recently did I realize that it wasn’t all or nothing...I didn’t HAVE to plant all 6 trees at once. I could start with a couple (you need at least two different varieties for cross-pollination) and go from there.
It’s strange how you start thinking a certain way and then when the light bulb comes on, you simply can’t believe that you didn’t realize there was an alternative sooner (and feel like a bit of a numbskull in the process!).
I applied the same logic to the berry bushes – I want to get several of each variety. Why am I waiting to get all of them? Why not just get one or two of each for now and then add to them over the years?
So, based on my enlightened way of thinking :), I am hoping to plant the following this year:
- 2 blueberry bushes
- Raspberries - 5 red raspberry & 5 yellow raspberry (these come in bundles of 5 canes)
- 1 blackberry
- 2 apple trees
- 1 peach tree
I also have a few other goals for the coming year:
- Build a new bed for asparagus (also on the hilltop)
- Put up fencing around 2nd vegetable garden area (beds #9 - #12), including a gate. For now, the hilltop beds (#13 - #16) will remain unfenced. Hopefully I don't end up regretting that.
- Build a gate for the existing fenced vegetable area (beds #1 - #8)
- Install drip irrigation in at least 4 of the new beds (beds #5 - #8). Ideally, I would like to install drip in all the new beds but I’m trying to be realistic here ;)
Although unrelated to the vegetable garden, one of my big garden tasks this year will be to clean up the perennial borders. There are 10 (yes 10!) distinct planting areas around our house and in our backyard ranging in size from about 50 sq. feet all the way up to 300 sq. feet. When we first moved in, all of the beds were considerably overgrown and I have been tackling them, one by one, every year. I'm not replanting the areas at this stage, but simply tidying them up - weeding, pruning, edging, mulching. I’m hoping that this will be the year when I am able to get them all (mostly) finished.
Based on past experience, when I have a large laundry list like this, I usually don’t get it all done. But that’s ok - I’ll be happy if I can cross most of the items off my list.
Till next time...