Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My Garden Plans - 2015

In early January, I finally got around to planning this years garden.  I like to finalize my plan before I order seeds, otherwise there is just too much temptation and I tend to go way off course, purchasing too much of some varieties and not enough of others.

Planning the garden usually involves a variety of tasks:

  • Going over my notes from the prior year (this is where those end of season summaries come in very handy!)
  • Preparing a list of veg that I want to grow, including new varieties that I want to try
  • Preparing the veg layout for each of the beds - at which point I usually realize that I "need" a few more beds ;)
  • Sorting through my seed stash which results in 3 piles - keep, dump (those seeds that I feel may be diseased) & give away (the seeds are good, but I don't want to grow that variety again).  If I had old seed, I may test germinate it at this stage too. 
  • LOTS of catalogue browsing - both paper & online - for the varieties that I need to purchase (and usually a few extra goodies get added to the shopping cart along the way).
  • Going back to the garden plan & adjusting it, if necessary, based on my seed purchases.

My plan, however, is never truly finalized as I do have a tendency to make small (or sometimes large) changes as the weeks pass...all the way up to the day of planting or sowing seeds outdoors.


2015 Bed Layout

The red letters beside the beds represent one plant family (or in some cases a group of families) which makes it easier for me when it comes to crop rotation.  For example, A= Brassica, B = Solanaceae, etc.

 

 
 

You may notice that I show 4 additional beds (#13 - #16).  The plan is to build these on the hilltop in the early spring.  At the very least, I will have to do the potato bed by mid-April.  The other three beds hold heat-loving plants, so these can be completed as late as mid-May.  Thankfully, the hardest part of the job - moving the triple mix to the top of the hill - was done last year.

In addition to the beds, I will also be experimenting with straw bales, using 5 of them to grow both summer & winter squash.


Other Plans for 2015

When it comes to the garden, my general tendency is to think in terms of the overall plan.  I know, for example, that I want to have 5 or 6 apple trees.  That’s a big expense and a big job, especially with our rocky soil.   With so many other things needing to be done, getting those apple trees was always put on the back burner.

And here lies the problem with my train of thought – I always considered this to be a single project.  Only recently did I realize that it wasn’t all or nothing...I didn’t HAVE to plant all 6 trees at once.  I could start with a couple (you need at least two different varieties for cross-pollination) and go from there.

It’s strange how you start thinking a certain way and then when the light bulb comes on, you simply can’t believe that you didn’t realize there was an alternative sooner (and feel like a bit of a numbskull in the process!).

I applied the same logic to the berry bushes – I want to get several of each variety.  Why am I waiting to get all of them?  Why not just get one or two of each for now and then add to them over the years?

So, based on my enlightened way of thinking :), I am hoping to plant the following this year:

  • 2 blueberry bushes
  • Raspberries - 5 red raspberry & 5 yellow raspberry (these come in bundles of 5 canes)
  • 1 blackberry
  • 2 apple trees
  • 1 peach tree

I also have a few other goals for the coming year:

  • Build a new bed for asparagus (also on the hilltop)
  • Put up fencing around 2nd vegetable garden area (beds #9 - #12), including a gate.  For now, the hilltop beds (#13 - #16) will remain unfenced.  Hopefully I don't end up regretting that.
  • Build a gate for the existing fenced vegetable area (beds #1 - #8)
  • Install drip irrigation in at least 4 of the new beds (beds #5 - #8).  Ideally, I would like to install drip in all the new beds but I’m trying to be realistic here ;)

Although unrelated to the vegetable garden, one of my big garden tasks this year will be to clean up the perennial borders.  There are 10 (yes 10!) distinct planting areas around our house and in our backyard ranging in size from about 50 sq. feet all the way up to 300 sq. feet.  When we first moved in, all of the beds were considerably overgrown and I have been tackling them, one by one, every year.  I'm not replanting the areas at this stage, but simply tidying them up - weeding, pruning, edging, mulching.  I’m hoping that this will be the year when I am able to get them all (mostly) finished.

Based on past experience, when I have a large laundry list like this, I usually don’t get it all done.  But that’s ok - I’ll be happy if I can cross most of the items off my list.

Till next time...

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

22 comments:

  1. I think you win the award for most organized! I just love your plans. And yes--all plans are subject to change.----one never knows what the year will bring. I've been trying for 3 years (!!) to get pear trees in. They're going on the list again...but who knows!
    Now if the next season would hurry up and get here, we'd find out-ha ha!
    Have a wonderful time browsing the catalogs. I always think I''m done....until another arrives!

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    1. Thanks Sue! Yes...those catalogues, just too much temptation...in a good way!

      The years do seem to fly by when it comes to garden plans. I thought I would plant my apple trees 2011, the year after I put in the plum & cherry....and here we are in 2015. I'm hoping that writing my "to do" list as part of a post will give me that extra push to get more done than I otherwise would. Your plate is already pretty full with all the blueberry & raspberry bushes you've ordered (25 - WOW!); hopefully you can squeeze in those pear trees!

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  2. I really enjoy reading about your plans! I also look forward to hearing about your straw bale gardening project. I have thought about it, but not yet tried it. It sounds like you inherited a lot of perennials like we did when we bought HA. It came with lots of different sized overgrown and overplanted areas, and it has taken us several years to get things like we want them. And you are so right about not having to do it all at once! Our fruit plantings took us several years as well, and I am still tweaking things.

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    1. Thanks Dave! I've been doing quite a bit of reading up on the straw bale method & can't wait to try it - I'm hopeful that this will finally give me at least a good squash harvest this year.

      I so envied your blueberry haul this year! I'm a bit worried about growing blueberries as I've read that only a small portion of soil in Ontario is acidic enough for them...and I'm pretty sure that this does not include where we live. Can't hurt to try though and I'll be following the tips you gave in the blueberry post you wrote last summer.

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  3. Wow, they're great plans. I'm still working on my crop rotation plan. My seed estimates are much less accurate than yours too! Glad you've worked out a way to get some more fruit bushes and trees

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    1. Well Lou, what I lack in experience I guess I try to make up for in planning!

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  4. Although your garden is evidently a lot bigger than mine, your approach to the task(s) is very similar to mine, so I find this post very interesting. As you say, the garden (and the plan for it) is never truly finished. It evolves all the time. I am currently starting out to renew my raised beds, and am planning to make them 40cm deep (as opposed to the current 15cm), so I am hopeful that my yields will improve dramatically. How deep are your beds?

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    1. My beds are approximately 28cm deep, using 2 boards stacked on top of each other. Nowhere near as deep as 40cm (lucky you!) but still a pleasure to work in and the veg do seem to love them - well most of the veg, anyhow - I still have my squash issues!

      You are making a huge jump from your current beds to 40cm! I have no doubt that you will indeed see big increases in your yields. I'm looking forward to hearing about your progress with this project.

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  5. What fun more beds and trees. You almost have as much vegetable growing space as I do now (or will once the new beds are in). I've got eight 4'x16' beds or 16 4'x8' beds depending on how you count it as I do have a board between them. You are just missing my circle garden area. I think that is about the same space as two 4'x8' beds, but they are irregular since they have a circle cutout on one side. It makes it a pain to plant, but I've never changed it since I like look and love the herb circle in the middle.

    I too am contemplating more trees. I just have to figure out which ones I want. I'm also contemplating ripping out one of my plums that has had issues since it was planted. It turns out European plums are hard to grow here. I should have planted a Japanese plum instead. They have fewer problems here.

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    1. You are so right about the circle garden - it is just beautiful & the fact that it gives you all that extra heat for those heat loving crops is such an added bonus!

      That's too bad about the plum tree. I had no idea that European plums had more issues - my favourite (by far) out of all the plums we harvested in 2013 was the French Prune - I only harvested two of them but they were amazing! I hope that the graft doesn't conk out on me.

      You know, as much as I enjoy plums and cherries, I'm not sure why I chose to plant them and not apple trees right from the start. Every member of my family loves apples and eats them regularly, plus you can store them for several months depending on the variety. And knowing how much your husband loves applesauce, my vote would be for apple trees!

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  6. Planning your garden before purchasing seeds is a great idea, otherwise there is just so much temptation! Thanks for sharing your plans.

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    1. Before I started this blog, the only people interested in my veg garden plans were me, myself and I. So nice to be able to share it with others that are just as crazy about veg gardens as I am!

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  7. Wow! You're so organized. I tend to just wing it though I do try to keep a mental note of where I want everything to go. It doesn't always work out but I've just never been good about planning on paper. :)

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    1. I'm one of those "if it's not written down, I don't remember it" sort of people. Two years ago, I didn't sow my tomatoes until April 29th because I forgot to note them on the calendar...May was just around the corner and all of a sudden I started thinking, "shouldn't I have sown my tomatoes by now"...

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  8. That sounds like a lot of work!! Maybe I am glad I just have a small lot. But then you will have lots of different foods to eat and I won't. Guess one can't have it both ways! Nice job planning! Nancy

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    1. It is a lot of work but I really do love it...both the growing and the eating!

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  9. You are not only an organized person you are also a planner, hopefully by following your blog I will learn and acquire some of your skills.

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    1. Oh my goodness, Norma...I think I'm the one that's learning from you! Case in point - when I decided to freeze some of my onions because of the maggot issues last year, you suggested caramelizing some of them before freezing them. I followed your suggestion and it has been SUCH a time-saver in the kitchen when I'm doing stews and Indian curries...so thank you!

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  10. Such an organize and ambitious plan, my garden is small and we travel a lot now-a-days so I just wing it, but I always remember to start tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in mid February, that's all the "planning" I do :)

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    1. I'm nowhere near experienced enough to wing it....maybe in 10 or 20 years ;)

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  11. What a fantastic planning effort. I go through some of this but am not as complete as you. I typically order seeds, then try to figure out where to put them. This year I will have an additional plot in the community garden, so I will have twice as much room. Just have to decide what goes in the raised beds and what in-ground in the additional plot.

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    1. Twice as much room...you are so lucky! If I didn't plan stuff out, I would definitely end up missing a key veg, which of course I wouldn't realize until after it's too late. Even with the plan I sometimes miss stuff - I forgot to put a spot for seed sown Camelot shallots (you'll notice I only showed the ones that I am trying to overwinter in the plans above) - that has since been fixed!

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