Thursday, April 1, 2010

Garden planning (and planting?) time!

Well, it's finally that time of year! I get to start planning a real (or at least large) vegetable garden! Last year, other than the odd herb or flower I wasn't able to flex my green thumb at all, so you can imagine how excited I am at the prospect!

The first thing we had to do was design the layout of the garden. We have chosen to use the side yard of the house as it's a faily large plot (all together usable space is 35'x18'), and gets a good deal of sun, as well as being removed from the main backyard (which is beneficial in deturring little ones and dogs from running through the beds) We have decided on 3 main raised beds (the benefits I'll go into more detail of later), our raspberry patch (which Chris pruned and walled last Autumn), and a herb garden, which is part of a raised level about 2 feet above the main garden.

Why raised beds?

It's been at least three years since I started researching ideas and resources for my dream garden, and from everything I've read, it looks like block-style raised beds (beds that are built up with wooden/stone walls) would suit us better than the traditional hills of earth that are commonly used as garden beds. These beds can be anywhere from 6"-24" high, depending on individual preference, and the benefits of using this technique are numerous. They are never built more that 4 feet wide, so it is easy to weed/plant/harvest from both sides of the bed without ever having to step in the garden, and thus eliminates unwanted packing of the earth. And because of being slighly removed from the main ground, raised beds usually thaw faster in Spring, and remain warmer further into Autumn thus extending the growing season, if only by a few weeks. Raised beds are also less susceptable to ground frost, and retain water more evenly and longer. Our own are going to be build from 4"x6" logs that we got from Chris' dad, and though will not be that much higher than ground level, should still provide some relief from having to bend over so far.

Vegetable Harmony

When all is said and done, we will eventually have a total of 17 different varieties of vegetables (unless we later decide to add more), and a myriad of herbs. I have done research to understand the compatability of certains veggies to one another (for example; growing corn to provide a pole/relief from sun damage to beans, close to zucchini to deter pests as done in the Native Canadian Three Sisters technique, or how beets provide nutrients to the soil that are used by broccoli and other such veggies), and have come up with what I hope will be a well nurished and flourishing garden plan. Each garden bed will be rotated at the end of each year, so that plants such as tomatoes and peppers that leach the soil of nutrients will only be in the same bed once every three years.

The veggies we plan to cultivate are (ones in italics denote what will be planted the first year):

  • green/red peppers

  • green beans

  • scallions

  • bunching/cooking onions

  • zucchini

  • kale

  • carrots

  • tomatoes

  • spinach

  • broccoli

  • head lettuce

  • beets

  • corn

  • romain lettuce

  • asperagus

  • potatoes

  • rutabaga (yellow turnip)

  • cucumbers
In addition to those veggies, we will also be planting in our herb garden basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, lavendar, dill, and garlic.
When Chris is off for three weeks on holidays (once I have had the baby) we will be building the physical garden beds, and importing the soil/compost needed. But with two composters in the backyard, and a large property full of vegetation and trees, it will not be long before we have our own supply of compost going. We have also decided that anywhere in that side yard not a vegetable garden will be covered with a layer of woodchips, for easy walking and to keep any weeds at bay (plus it will just be more esthetically pleasing). That means this weekend I get to go out and get my first batch of seeds to start indoors; I couldn't be happier!
As an aside; eventually we plan to order heirloom varieties of the herbs/vegetables and harvest the seeds ourselves. But that will have to come in later years, as I want to make sure we are knowledgable enough to end up with a decent yeild of food first!

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it so much fun to line things up all neat and tidy on graph paper? It just tickles me pink!


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