Making a (vegetable) garden plan

16 02 2013

It’s getting to be that time of year: Time to make a plan.  It’s not a crucial step but it certainly helps a person to utilize your space as best as possible.  I want to make sure my garden creates a LOT of grub this year cause any extra, I’d like to give to our local Food Bank operations.

Every year I have had an unofficial policy of knowing that I will just keep messing around with the layout of the garden; including circle beds and all shapes of paths and beds.  It has been great creatively, but always seeming more labour intensive than necessary.  I’m not trying to be a lazy gardener; I don’t mind a bit of work in the summer.  But it’s more about soil quality.

I would frequently be growing things in areas where we had paths the year before and vice versa.  That is a set back to your garden because of the soil compaction and water flow.  Having a well producing garden is always my goal.  So my plan with this year’s bed is to make this the “go to” bed and keep it for at least two or three more years (ideally even more permanently).

As for the bed itself, well I already have a nice long piece of carpet for one of the paths and hope to get another one.  Each of these would be covered by mulch for a nicer aesthetic.  I’ve lined my long beds with bricks temporarily.  In the spring, I’ll flatten out the earth to make it look a bit more pretty BUT, no mortar or any setting agents… just a line of them.  Despite the big obsession with “raised beds” in every gardening book I’ve read, I just can’t be bothered; my beds have been okay with being contentedly full.  I feel no urge to by 2 more cubic yards of dirt just for an extra 4-6 inches.   For my lining my smaller beds (or beds that can be more subtle) I just toss some longer branches or sticks.  Obviously, my garden has a fairly informal look and that’s the way I likes it.  Using these materials this way allows me to change my beds at any point.  I don’t want to hardscape anything into my planting area.

Every year in my garden journal I’ve been making “plans” and “actuals” of how each year’s garden grows.  It’s pretty cool to see how those trends go.  I can see how my interesting winter ideas end up changing when the transplants, seeds and edging material are in my hand.

I made this plan on graph paper where each graph paper square was 6″x6″ (meaning, 4 of those per square foot).  I drew this grid into square feet.  Keeping in mind this is JUST the vegetable bed.  I still have the herb garden and a back bed to plan out a little better (as well as all the containers)

Here’s the tentative plan:

Summer2012(1) 002

My one issue is with the perverse amount of carrots I can expect, even though I plan to do successional crops (planting some more every couple weeks to spread out the harvest).  So, I’m going to use a few of those squares for other things.  For example, I really want to pick up a spirella plant again (close relative of the Sesame) and I would LOVE to grow a squash somewhere if I can.

The bed with the tomato plants, you could (potentially) see, is only half filled at this point.  Well, I plan on finding all the good tomato companion plants and spreading everything out real good throughout without staying too “on the squares”.  I expect onions and basil will figure prominently in that bed.  Probably some garlic too.  Otherwise, that may be the spot where I put a couple vining plants to fill up that bed.

At a later point, I will post how the other backyard beds are shaping up.  I am quite excited to see if the raspberry canes I got from a coworker make it through the winter.  And I think we will have a new tiger lilly as well as many tulips and other bulbs that should be stinkin’ up the garden something pleasant!

We will be growing these gigantic sunflowers on the front edge of the sitting area to create a screen from the street.


We placed them here last year when I did not do a sufficient job of convincing my wife of what a fantastic green/privacy screen they would be.  I think she was sold on them by the end of the year.

After harvesting the most heavy laden of the heads, I figured I’d just leave them standing.  They have a bit of an ominious, “Tim Burtonesque” quality about them in the snow now.

2013 007

I believe these will function brilliantly as runner bean supports if we put a bit of chicken wire around the very bottom.

Lastly, blueberries plants in one or two large containers.  I’m excited about this cause berries…. just can’t seem to get enough of them these days.

I can only hope I do a better job of protecting the haskup berries from the slugs this year.  If I get ANY berries on those plants, I will be happy.  This year is the TLC year for those things.  But between my strawberries and haskups, as well as my potential raspberries and blueberries, we’ll have a full on “Berry L. Backyard” (the “L” stands for “Licious”).  I’m VERY excited about that.  Our family LOVES berries!  And besides, a berry heavy backyard is a backyard that keeps children happy.






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