It is that time of year, time to plan your garden. For those of us who have been at this a while, we have a stack of seed catalogs at hand. Some are like me, having a cup of coffee and a note pad at their side. This will be for those who wish to grow vegetables, herbs and fruits. For me, the fruit is strawberries. There is nothing like fresh strawberry jam.
I found each area around my property has a different climate. I think they are calling them “micro-climates”. That term does fit. It is amazing how different the garden I call the kitchen garden is very different than the side of the house. That side gets hot sun for a short time. What grows on that side will not grow in the kitchen one. Then there was the meadow with winds coming down from the hill straight into it. I have tried all sorts of spots on our property, to say the least. I live in the mountains, in forest. Soil, sun and the like are a challenge and we live in one of the two areas in the States with the shortest growing season.
This year I am cutting way back. I had over 600 square feet of gardens going. If we want to go anywhere, well… things went south with 5 garden plots we did so. It rained heavily, causing over-watering of the gardens. They recouped, yet it was a huge waste of water and yields went down. My kitchen garden would do fine with that sort of set up if we needed to go out of town for a bit, being above a slope and sandy soil outside the boxes to help if there is rains that were not forecast.
Along with my catalogs, I made print-outs for my garden beds. I use those for plotting out planting to the inch. I plant heavily and tightly. I use boxes made from untreated cedar fencing, screwed together to make 6’x3′ boxes. 3 planks makes a box I can reach across. I found if I do not move the boxes around, they last a good 4 to 5 years before needing replacing. I added my old hoops along the long sides and attached fencing for trellises for vining vegetables. The current set-up has been the best for us. It took a bit of trial-and-error to reach this point. That is normal, of course.
For those new to growing, make the garden small and try vegetables you know you will eat. If there is something different you want to try, get it at the grocery store and try it first. Also, talk to the local Master Gardner group near you or see what is available at the local farmer’s markets. That will give you a good idea of what grows in your area very well. Or grows well for that grower, I should add. laughing… I can grow my own tobacco with ease. That isn’t at the local market. Their cabbages are gorgeous. Mine come out puny. Ah well…
There is a ton of stuff online to look at to give you ideas. I grow organic. I also plant various herbs meant for my salves and teas that the bees love- calendula, mints, borage, cooking herbs and so on all around the areas outside the planting boxes.
Watching the garden grow is very satisfying. Digging in the dirt is something I find very soothing. I may be sore after a while, it is worth it. When the first salad of the season hits your mouth, oh my. Or when you have snow up to your armpits outside, howling wind and you open up a jar of strawberry jam that brings the warm summer sun to mind as you smell that jam’s delicious scent. I could go on.
That is it for now. The images start with my first garden in 2011. I put plastic down to get rid of the mountain “grass-from-hell” in the front area. I went from small 3’x3′ boxes all over to 30′ long rows, to 2 boxes together making 3’x12′ short-ish rows. I have 9 of those in the kitchen garden area with one 3’x6′ in a bit on the edge. The images do not show the potato area that has 4 of the rows mentioned for the kitchen area or the area on the side of the house that will only have green beans and peas, which seem to be the only vegetables that do fine there. The fencing for the peas is not in full sun too long, the green beans do not mind it much. Have a good time!