Saturday, May 7, 2011

Planning the Gardens

Finally...done with planning the gardens for the upcoming season!  Sophia, Olivia, and I looked through all the vegetable, fruit, and flower garden ideas in my files and books, and now have some ideas for maintaining and expanding the gardens.

About ten or so years ago, this map was made of the property by a graphic designer with whom I worked.  It gives an overview of the layout of the farm and where things are located.

Map of the farm.

Since my computer and graphic design skills are rather limited, I did the garden plans by hand.  The first area - and the one that provides some food for us - is located in section 2 (see map above) right off the driveway and near the home.

Current vegetable garden with plans to expand it this year.

The vegetable garden has four existing raised beds as well as one cold frame.  However, they are all more than ten years old and need repair.  That will be the first priority. 

Once they are repaired and compost is added, these areas will have tomatoes, peppers (green, red, and yellow), beets, leeks, lettuce, and herbs. 

Two of the raised beds have fruit:  raspberries, strawberries, and rhubarb.  I want to add one more rhubarb plant, put a covering over the strawberries, and stake up the raspberries since they are overtaking more than their raised bed space. 

There are four new areas that will be added this year in the vegetable/fruit garden area.  These will include: carrots, tomatoes (cherry, roma/paste, pear-shape, and beefsteak), yellow beans, green beans, cabbage, broccoli, and herbs. 

The herb garden will have a variety of herbs that I commonly cook with:  basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

A couple new things I'd like to try this year are scented geraniums and Signet marigolds.  Both of these items can be used when preparing food.  The geraniums come in a variety of scents and can flavor what you are cooking/baking.  A recipe I have is for scented geranium poundcake.  The Signet variety of marigolds (e.g., lemon gem, tangerine gem) also can be used in recipes such as beverages and baked goods.

Signet marigolds on cheese and crackers.

The other vegetable garden is more of a shady one and is located in Section 3 (see map at top of the post).  The girls and I tried potatoes, beets, and beans there last year after weeding it and transplanting flowers that were it.  Unfortunately, by the middle of the summer the surrounding trees had filled in and shaded most of the garden.

So, the new plan is to focus on plants and edible flowers that can tolerate shade to limited sunlight. 

Plan for a garden that gets some sunlight...but is mostly shady.

Towards the front of the garden will be edible flowers - nasturtiums, marigolds, Johnny jump-ups, pansies, signet marigolds, and violets. 

Behind the flowers will be radishes and lettuce.  On the left side of the garden will be spinach and mint.  The back section is left open if there's additional vegetables that can grow in the shade or if there are some perennial flowers that can be grown there that can be cut and used for arrangements in the home.

This garden will have to have a short fence around it to keep rabbits out of it.  The rabbits seem to think that some of the vegetables and fruit in the gardens are planted just for them. 

One Evening's Harvest
Some of the vegetables from one night's harvest
during Summer 2010.

Around the garden area - in an area yet to be determined - we will be growing cucumbers and zucchini.  Last year, we had a bumper crop of cucumbers, but the vines were all over the place.  This year, we're going to use bamboo towers to train the vines to grow up (rather than spread out). 

I thought that we would try potatoes again, but this time use tires (again, growing plants vertically).  However, in doing a bit of research about this method, I decided that purchasing potatoes from an organic farmer at the farmer's market is a better option. Apparently, tires leach petroleum distillates and we grow all the vegetables and fruit organically, so that's not a good option for the girls and me. 

One more area that I've been wanting to do something with is the little arbor that my brother put in many years ago.  It hasn't been used much, and I like to something with it since it is next to the lilacs, a birdhouse, and the nature trail.  It's a quiet area that would be a good spot for reading or relaxing. 

I saw in one of the gardening books the idea of using canning or food jars as miniature herb gardens.  Using wire, you create a hanger for the jar.  I couldn't find a picture on the internet, but I did find this picture which kind of gives a similar idea:

Hanging vases.

At one time - over ten years - I had a closed loop trail plowed and leveled (shown in Sections 4-9 in the map at the top of this post).  I would mow it and it provided a wonderfully relaxing walk in the mornings or late afternoons as the sun was setting.  Then...a development was put in next door and now houses overlook this part of the farm.  I stopped mowing the trail and it has now become more wild and bumpy (thanks to gophers).

I thought it might be good to re-visit the trail since a row of pine trees is now growing in quite nicely along the east side of the property (which will hopefully block out the view of the homes eventually).  So, the plan would be to plant more trees along the trail that would provide fall color in shades of red, orange, yellow, and gold.  There are some trees and bayberry bushes out on the trail already which is a good start.

Plan for the closed-loop trail. 
Some trees and items (e.g., benches, bluebird houses)
are already in place.  The items with a * need to be added.

The girls and I are excited about planting the gardens this year, and then being able to enjoy the produce during the summer as well as preserving some of it for use in the winter (either by canning, freezing, or drying it).


Dawn said...

Wow! What a wonderful space for planting a huge garden. We have only a small patch, but it is fun to watch it grow.

Rana said...

This sounds like it's going to be an awesome garden. Enjoy the fruits of our labor!

Amy @ Homestead Revival said...

Your map of your homestead is wonderful and really looks like your place has a lot of options! I just put a part of my potatoes in the garden today and I can tell I bought too many. I need to decide how many of the rest I'm going to plant. I must remember to write it down for next year so I order the correct amount! If you ever get another chance to grow your own, they really are a treat - I've never had such a good spud!

SparingChange said...

Great job! I am looking forward to seeing the finished product! :-)