The excitement and hubbub of the holidays may be behind us, but there is still something to look forward to in the cold of January, folks - Seed catalogs and garden planning! WAHOO!!! Don't get me wrong - I do like the cold weather and snow. All seasons have their beauty. But I do look forward to the days I can be outside working in the garden until 930 at night with my flip flops on!
While my garden is nowhere near the size of some it is plenty large enough to keep me busy! I do my best to take into account companion planting and crop rotation recommendations when planning but sometimes I find something really is just handy growing in a particular spot and I just run with it.
I'm generally not dead set on specific varieties of veg' - trying new types is fun and as long as they grow well and taste great I'm good. One exception to that rule is tomatoes - we must have Brandywine and Supersweet 100s - the former for me and the latter for my daughter. They're our favorites.
Here was last year's plan - well watered from when I had it with me during planting last spring. I did shake it up a teeny bit on the fly so it wasn't planted exactly to the plan but for the most part it is representative of the layout.
The garden is broken up into two sides of a path that runs through east to west. The path is actually large enough to get the tractor through a wide gate into the grassy fenced area around the house. We keep the path clear so we can bring the riding lawn mower through and the occasional camper when we have guests in town.
The turkey coop is over by the Blackberries. It was the first year I planted zucchini next to the turkey run and it worked quite well - shading the area a bit and of course providing lots of yummy pickings very close by.
Looking back at the garden last year the tomatoes did not do well at all. We had a very late start to the garden due to the cool and moist spring. The garlic I had planted the fall prior did wonderfully - though i will say it would have been better if I had kept up on my weeding better. In my defense we were working on ~3k linear feet of fencing all summer so time was short and with animals waiting for more roaming space the garden definitely took second fiddle.
Looking back at the plan it looks a bit random with some raspberries intermingled amoungst the veg'. I did that as I had planted a variety of raspberries there that I was hoping would thrive but in the end the did not. So veg' it will remain in that northeast section of the garden.
The south side of the garden is there most of the veg' is.... in the Southeast corner I have my wee little greenhouse that grew a wonderful batch of grass and weeds last year courtesy of the fencing project :)
I got the little greenhouse at Murdocs last year during their fall clearance sale - a pretty good deal! It's not a uber fancy one but it is strong enough to withstand our 70+ mph winds here so I can't complain. Oh, wait - except for more space. Which I WILL have one day - more on that another day ;) To secure the greenhouse I attached it to a frame of 6x6 posts that are chained on to the big ground anchors used to keep hay tarps from flying away. Solid man.
This is the year I'm going to focus on using the greenhouse for to start my seedlings - just need to get a heater to adjust for the cold nights we can get.
On this side of the garden last year the squash went wild! Great production. And it was the first year I let them wander along the ground versus growing them vertically. While they did great growing free for all I am going to return to growing vertically as I think it saves space and keeps things more healthy and easier to pick.
In years past I had the corn, beans and pumpkins on the south side of the sheep barn. With that location now fenced and the sheep enjoying the space I need to find a new spot for the corn and pumpkins! (beans will be in the garden proper this year) I'm tempted to take up part of the grass around the house for it - the corn would help dampen the noise from the road a bit too. Double duty.
This year, my plan is on one page :) The northeast corner of the garden is in the upper left hand corner. Nothing earth shatteringly different really. I think the biggest change is that the beans are back in the main garden and I'm planning on planting a significant amount of basil and placing it right where I tend to walk into the garden. Oh, and finally a dedicated herb garden over by the chicken run - I'm not waiting any longer to decide where the right place is. Hopefully once the perennial herbs establish themselves (I'll fence it off while they get started) the chickens will have little effect on them. I'm thinking the usuals - sage, oregano, marjoram, chives, thyme (of a couple varieties), fennel, dill, summer savory, borage, mint (in pots of course to avoid the spread)....
Why so much basil? Because I simply adore the stuff and love walking through the garden smelling it in the air. (I'm thinking of making a super stock pile of pesto for us to enjoy all winter long). And I know others love it too - I wanna spread the love!
My approach on gardening is to plant enough for friends, family, bugs, critters and our family.
I am considering growing the beans and squash over tunnels I make from livestock panels this year, if I can swing the expense of the panels. I think it would look neat, provide additional shade and overhead protection for the poultry and make it a cinch to harvest when the time comes. We'll see! Only a few more months to go!