I’m starting to think about my vegetable garden.
You may recall that this garden does not exist yet. Even moreso right now since everything is still buried in snow.
However, that’s not stopping me from thinking about layouts and plants and dimensions and fencing and fertilizer and trellises and… and… and…
The garden is my one and only outdoor project for this year.
Would you help me with planning, please?
The objective is to turn the patch of burr bushes behind this little picket fence…
Into a bucolic oasis like this.
No sweat, right?
Here’s what I’ve sorted out so far.
I’m going to dismantle what Matt calls the “goat ring” (I think it’s a longeing ring for horses) to get my fencing.
Under this mound of snow, I have a stash of wood posts that I can use either for fencing or for edging the garden beds.
I’ve collected a few rolls of chain link that will be helpful to keep small hungry critters from munching on my produce.
Aaaaaand that’s about all I have so far.
Next week is spring break. I’m taking a vacation from the day job, which means a little more time at home to work on projects. One project is starting to map out the garden.
I don’t think I can do much more than that until the snow melts.
I’m going to be taking a break from the blog for the week too. While I’m away, I’d really appreciate it if you could offer your suggestions for the garden.
What should I plant? How should I organize the garden? What dimensions are best for the individual beds? How big should the garden be overall? What’s the best way to get rid of the burr bushes and prepare the soil? Do you have a garden yourself? What grows best for you? Are there any garden blogs I should be reading? Thanks in advance for your help.
What I’ve learned is:
1. Start small so that you know what you can handle weed-wise and harvest-wise. We always plant way more tomato plants than we can consume and I hate to see so much go to waste. My MIL even cans tomato juice and sauce and we still have fruit rotting on the plant!
2. Plant the foods you like. Don’t plant a bunch of stuff that you’ll never eat. But with that in mind, try something new. I would never had attempted to grow broccoli but my MIL plants it in our garden and it does really really well!
3. For convience, start your garden near a water source. When it is really dry we have to haul water out to the garden and it is a real pain!
As for inspiration blogs, I think you follow my two suggestions already, DIYDiva and The Art Of Doing Stuff!
Good luck! I am starting my garden plans and seed orders this weekend!
Those were the two blogs that come to my mind when I think of gardening inspiration. And I think they’re more my speed. I don’t need detailed soil analysis tips. I just want to keep it simple, like you suggest.
You should check out Square Foot Gardening.
I have had great success with tomatoes, salad greens, and cucumbers. Peppers don’t often work well for me. Herbs do work well.
I would say, think about the vegetables you eat the most, and grow those. Lettuce/salad greens are awesome because they keep growing/producing.
My parents have had success with squash, zucchini, and potatoes (as well as tomatoes, salad greens, and beans when the rabbits don’t eat them).
Carrots have not done well in their yard, but they are working with hard soil that the carrots can’t cut through).
And check out different options for planting flowers with vegetables – some combinations help keep bugs away.
Sorry – that should have said “Julia” not “Julie” LOL
I was thinking of mixing in some flowers. Both for the bug factor, but also the beauty factor. This might be a way to get a “cutting” garden too. Thanks for the suggestions of specific plants that work in the area.
Hi Julia, I’ve been following along for a bit in the background, but wanted to chime in because we just started planning a new garden and found a garden planner that’s been really helpful: http://www.motherearthnews.com/garden-planner/vegetable-garden-planner.aspx. They have a free trial so you can test it out. We found the great thing is that it automatically shows how much space you need for each plant, so very quickly you can see what’s going to fit. You can also set it for your geographic area so it takes into consideration your frost dates and tells you when to start seedlings inside, when to plant them out etc.
We’re on the west coast so what grows out here probably isn’t that helpful for you, and we’re somewhat new to this, so no great wisdom. We’re in the process of moving our garden to a different part of the property from where the old one was, so right now it consists of one raised bed in the middle of the grass, but eventually there will be more… and a fence… and paths…
Thanks for coming out of the background and sharing the link, Tracy. I enjoy reading Mother Earth News and have printed out a few of their garden plans, but I’d forgotten about the amount of resources they have on their site. I’m going to have to go back in and poke around a bit. It’s such a big job to establish a garden. I have a feeling this is going to be a multi-year process. Can I ask why you’re moving your garden?
The owners who started the original one put it at the edge of the property, I think because they also had horses and wanted it out of the way. It’s right against trees (that we don’t own), so we don’t get sun on it until well after noon, even in the height of the summer. So we’re moving it to a location that gets more sun. It’s also pretty dilapidated – all the raised beds are rotting and falling apart, and a tree took out part of the fence, so it needs to be rebuilt anyway. Definitely a multi-year process though!
I’m starting to worry about trees. In the location where I’m planning to put the garden, it will have trees at three of the four corners. It’s not a row of trees, but do you think that will still be too much shade?
Definitely not an expert here, and there are some plants that like a bit of shade, especially in the summer (like greens), but I think generally the more sun, the better. I have seen some gardens surrounded by trees where people still seem to grow quite a bit, but I think you’re likely to get more with more sun. Whether the trees are an issue would also depend which corners the trees are on. If any of them are north of the garden they shouldn’t be an issue, and the sun’s also higher in the summer so how much of a shadow the trees cast will change over the seasons.
You may want to watch how much sun you get in that area before putting in anything too permanent. We made the mistake of putting in a row of raspberries in a raised bed last year, then a week later ended up moving them because they weren’t getting enough sun. But even after that, we did put some new raised beds in the old garden with the knowledge that we would likely be moving them this year. They’re not impossible to move, it’s just a bit of work and they will kill whatever grass or greenery they were sitting on top of.
Thanks for your thoughts. While I’m off this week I might evaluate the sun and shadow situation.
Your vision of a garden oasis looks dreamy!! I wish I can suggest something that would be helpful to you but I need all the help I can get in this department. I will be following along. . . making a ton of notes 😉
Yay! Join the club. Hopefully I can make the vision come true. What’s your vision?
I found plans for a garden in Better Homes and Gardens and followed it exactly the first year. It is an 8′ x 12′ raised bed. The problem is that it is too wide. It is hard to leave a path down the middle. I wish now that I had done two narrower beds. Here is the link to my garden last June.
Thanks for the input, Jessica. It looks like you had good success with your garden last year. What do you think about 4′ wide for the beds? I figure I can reach about 2′ across from one side and then go around to reach the other side.
I think that 4′ is workable. Also make sure to buy untreated lumber unless you want chemicals in your produce. Good luck with this endeavor. I look forward to following along.
Good point about the lumber choice.
Beautiful inspiration photo. I have hopes for a veggie garden someday, but probably not very soon. We already have more garden than we can handle!
I’m hoping this doesn’t turn out to be more than I can handle!