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…




15 comments on “Garden Planning. Still.

  1. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, I’m with you totally on the seed catalogs. I always seem to buy too many seeds. They look so dog gone good in the magazines. One thing about raised beds and multiple crops per year is soil regeneration between crops. It takes a lot out of the soil with intensive growing. Just as much, if not more, attention to soil life is needed as to growing the crops. I’m excited to see how you transition to raised beds and hoop house growing.

    Have a great planning day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      With our 3 season gardens we’ll still be able to get in one or two cover crops between food crops. With our raised beds I just rake in some compost every year and they’ve done fine. Hoop house growing is new to me of course, but my plan is to use compost to to try to keep the soil healthy. Depending on how things go I may have to use organic fertilizer, something we’ve never done here before. A friend who has a hoop house does that, but I talked to someone else who grows in one and they don’t amend with anything other than compost. We’ll see how it goes.


  2. valbjerke says:

    As all my garden beds are raised and space is limited to those beds, I pay a fair bit of attention to companion planting (carrots love tomatos etc). And because I don’t want to spend time weeding, I plant very intensively – everything is allowed exactly enough space to grow and that’s it. An added bonus – good water retention as the soil is not exposed to the baking sun. I think you’re going to enjoy gardening even more as you start to experiment with different methods. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • avwalters says:

      That’s how I did it as a city dweller.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      I think so too. We’ve had good success using the square foot gardening method in our raised beds. And we hardly have any weed issues at all in them.

      When I was a kid we laid out rows/beds and cultivated with a tractor. So that’s how I started doing it when I came back home. If I was starting from scratch now I think I’d go entirely with raised beds and no-till growing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. avwalters says:

    We’re headed in the same direction–raised beds planted more intensively. In my years at Two Rock, I indulged in gardening sprawl. Why not? The space was offered for free, the soil was good, the California season long and leisurely and the seed catalogs beckoned. Before that I lived in Oakland–a frustrated farmer on a standard sized city lot. I discovered French intensive and Square Foot gardening–and was off like a shot.

    This time we’re starting anew with poor soils. Any garden space we have will be the result of much blending and digging–and we need to stay within the confines of the deer fencing. You just popped one of my bubbles–I’d planned to put asparagus (which likes our alkaline native soils) outside of the fenced area. Because, after all, deer don’t eat asparagus, do they?


    • Bill says:

      We’ve never had any issues with deer eating asparagus until this year. In the spring I greatly expanded our patch and planted new crowns. They came up beautifully and I was very pleased. Then summer came around and I didn’t pay much attention to them. But somewhere along the way the blankedy blank deer munched on all the new ferns. I didn’t even discover it until late summer. I could have easily sprayed deer repellent on the plants but I had no reason to think I needed to do that. Hopefully the roots survived and it will come back. If so we won’t pick it this year and I’ll keep deer repellent on it. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hahahhahahhaha–resistance is futile. Must. Have. Seeds.
    Every year (EVERY!) I insist I don’t need much. Then January hits and perhaps it’s the lack of sun, or the fifteen shades of white and gray outside, but I go crazy with those catalogs.
    Damn those full color photos of picture-perfect perfection.
    Well, good luck. You’re gonna need it.


    • Bill says:

      Lol. So true Susan. We’re still eating food we put up year before last. We don’t need to be adding more things to our gardens. But I find myself thumbing through the catalogs thinking, “Hey, this looks interesting.”

      Hello. My name is Bill and I’m a seedaholic.


  5. I love that last paragraph. How true it is! I don’t grow things to eat, but I sure love my flowers and every year I say okay that I don’t need anymore but then I just can’t resist. We just planted 4 new roses today! And I may order two more. Thanks for letting me know that there are others who just cannot resist growing. 🙂 ❤


  6. Lynda says:

    Bill, this sounds good and I will be interested to see how it goes for you! I would like to learn something new, and hopefully easier, for my food garden endeavors.


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