Garden Planning. Still.

The slow days of December are a time to plan next years gardens. As I’ve been thinking about it, a plan, which may very well change, is starting to come into focus.

Instead of having a separate garden for each crop or plant family, my current plan is to return to more traditional homesteaders’ gardens. The gardens will be somewhat larger than in the past, but there will be far fewer of them. We will have 3 principal gardens–one for spring, one for summer and one for fall. So we’ll separate the gardens by season, not by plant family. The emphasis will be on growing food for ourselves, of course, with any surplus going to the farmers market or to the food bank. We’ll grow lettuce and carrots in our raised beds, and we’ll continue to grow large patches of Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes.

We significantly expanded the size of our asparagus garden last year, but to my dismay and great frustration deer ate the tops out of the young plants–something they’d never done before. Hopefully the plants will recover. If so, by next year we’ll have a lot of asparagus to market as well.

The general idea behind this plan is to reduce the amount of land we’re tending, and to continue our slow transition to more no-till and perennial food crops. With more intensive use of space and without spreading our one-man workforce so thin, I wouldn’t be surprised if we produce more this way than with last year’s 16 garden system.

I’m going to treat this as a year for experimentation in the hoop house. Once the overwintered veggies are gone, my tentative plan is to plant one row of the Johnny’s semi-determinate designed for hoop house growers, one row of Romas and one row of German Johnsons. I’ll use the Florida weave method as supports. I’ll try some other summer crops in there too, starting them as if we were in zone 8 instead of zone 7. I’m interested to see how it goes. I can imagine a day when everything we grow (other than perennials) are in raised beds and inside the hoop house.

I’m just going to have to resist the temptation to plant those large gardens I’ve spent many years preparing. Planting is so easy, and so tempting. And those darn seed catalogs are gardening porn. Must stay strong…