"A garden is never as good
as it will be next year."
(I am just positive that you'll need to click on the picture to get a larger version so that you can possibly tell what's going on in there--well, if you want to anyway.)
So here we have it--the Spring Garden Plan 2009(tm). The first thing to notice about it is that it's probably time for me to lay off the caffeine. ;-) I should give credit for the software I use, too, which can be found at www.growveg.com. I really love this service--it's got lots of great utilities, and it's just plain old fun to use. For US$25/year, maybe it's a bit frivolous, but I suck at keeping paper records, so this will do.
Okay, seriously now, this is my fourth year gardening. I've had mixed luck with it, but I think I'm finally starting to get my brain wrapped around the project (or, at least, other people seem to think I am, because they keep asking me questions about gardening as if I know what I'm talking about). The garden this year is about the same size as the gardens I've done for the past three years, with a couple of additions (the potato and garlic squares), but there are several notable changes I'm making:
- I will be adopting the "square foot gardening" method for several parts of my garden
- There will be a "kid's pizza garden"
- My husband wants his own square
- Some hardcore new fertilization
Square Foot Gardening
As you can probably see, in the SE corner of the main garden I have a number of 4'x4' square plots, rather than the more traditional long beds or rows (and the remainder of my garden is regular, 12'x3' raised beds, and has been for the past few years). I am trying this method to see what I think of it. Certainly I've heard rave reviews, and it does make a lot of intuitive sense to me as well, so what the heck? I will be trying two basic styles. First, the four squares at the bottom-most corner you will see are labeled "Kitchen Garden". These are the squares from which we can harvest for daily eating throughout the growing season. It's where I will (and I will, damnit) build coldframes and such for season extension. I am hoping that this will create a useful divide between what to eat and what to store. I often found myself not harvesting things to eat last year, because I was worried that it would put too much of a dent in our food storage. Well, let's just put them in separate sections, then! The other two square beds (which contain onions, carrots, and beets) are meant for storage--I'm testing the SFG methodology with respect to mass crops for putting up. I am actually rather optimistic about all this. The remainder of my garden will be regular raised beds.
Incidentally, the garden-planning utility isn't great for actually plotting out what I'll put in the SFG section--so that stuff's not really set in stone. It's more just reminders of what in general I want in there, and in what rough proportions, as well as planning out where the frames will go for vertical crops.
The Pizza Garden
I want my kids to garden, but I don't want to overwhelm them. So I've planned in a 4' diameter "pizza garden" (got the idea from Sharon Astyk), and I let the kids decide what to put in. They picked tomatoes, beans (bush or pole? probably pole), some leaf lettuce, carrots, and two kinds of flowers--blue nasturtiums and marigolds. Cute, eh?
My Husband's Patch
Those who know my husband are probably still busy picking themselves up off of the floor after having read that he wants a section of the garden for himself, so I'll assume that you don't know the backstory here. My husband and green things do not traditionally get along. Gardening has pretty much been my domain for, well, the entirety of our relationship. But I think this has been making him feel guilty, as he is very much on board with everything I'm trying to do, and he wants to help. So this year he's asked to have a plot of his own. Switching some of the garden to a SFG method, I think, made the project of helping out in the garden become more manageable to him, rather than attempting to wade out into my sprawling, wilderness-like layout. Also, he could choose what he wanted to plant, which will hopefully make the project more interesting to him (I suspect he would have to restrain himself from actively sabotaging my tomatoes otherwise--he hates tomatoes [and yes, I still married him voluntarily]). He has chosen to do a bed of potatoes, which I think will be a great choice for him and a good starting place. He really likes potatoes, so he'll have a vested interest in trying to take care of the plants. Potatoes are also pretty forgiving, as far as I know. They do require a different sort of care than other plants, but not so much that it's really more difficult, just different.
The New Fertilizer
Yes, the new fertilizer. I'm taking a leaf out of an old Mother Earth News article found here (http://tinyurl.com/2rgxmy), and mixing a homemade fertilizer to add in, along with the copious amounts of compost I put in. The fertilizer is a ratio'ed mixture of lime, gypsum, bone meal, alfalfa meal, and kelp meal. All of it (except the kelp meal, which I need to order online) rang in at just over $20 (and that's for almost 150# of agricultural products), so it's a pretty durned good deal, if it works. I'll be sure to report on its success or failure later. But, of course, this will be used in conjunction with compost--always always always have compost! Love my compost! Don't take good care of my compost, but that doesn't mean I don't love it!
And so... there you have it! That's the plan. For future reference, our lawn is actually twice the size, width-wise (i.e., east to west) as what we're using now, which is probably even better land since it gets better sun. I will be steadily encroaching on it as I get better. I am planning on putting in a short grape arbor and/or blueberry bushes along the North side of our lawn, between mine and my neighbor's yard (who won't mind one little bit having grapes or blueberries coming onto her side, and might just help me pay for them). Who knows what else? We'll see.... =D