As I begin my vegetable gardening planning for this year, I realize how much easier it is to plan then actually do. I excel at planning these endeavors but sometimes struggle with the execution of my (genius) ideas. Every year I have ambitious plans but have always been unable to follow through on some. Last year it was setting up composting bins – I just couldn’t get around to it no matter how much I wanted too.
This year is going to be hard too. On top of my usual plans, I am also committing to blogging about the process which will take up time. I am hoping blogging will hold me accountable to certain projects and push me to finish them. No matter how it turns out – it has to start with good planning.
Above is an excel diagram of my garden layout. This year beds 6, 8, 24, 25, 26, and 44 are all new garden beds accounting for approx 210 square feet of new growing space, This is the smallest garden expansion since I started 5 years ago so I am hoping it will allow me extra time to focus on quality and other projects.
The main part of the garden are beds 27-43. Starting at the left the beds are about 3 ft wide by 18 feet long but they shrink to about 3 ft x 10 as they get to the far right because of a hill. The left portion of the garden is very sunny but as you go to the right around bed 37 they start to become more shaded and 41-43 are heavily shaded because of trees. Due to this I can’t rotate crops as much as I would like. I need the stuff that loves sun to stay to the left and the stuff that can tolerate shade to stay to the right.
Each of these beds (with the exception of 1-5 which are 4×4 raised beds that run down the slope next to stairs) are 3 ft wide with 1 ft paths between them. They are 3 ft wide because that is the width of the landscape fabric I use over the beds. I hate weeding – so minimizing that by using fabric and hay as mulch helps keep me sane.
So here is the plan for what is going into the beds this year…
Rows 29-33 are my tomato sauce making rows. Each row has 6 plants for a total of 30 dedicated to tomato sauce (and the occasional tomato for BLT’s). The cherry tomatoes in rows 14-19 are mostly for salads and dehydrating. There will be 2 plants in each of those rows for a total of 12 plants. Amazingly 42 total tomato plants is a reduction over previous years. I have learned that cramming to many tomatoes together doesn’t benefit the garden (or gardener).
Almost 2 full rows dedicated to cucumbers will be a significant increase. I ran out of homemade pickles in January this year and I don’t plan to make that mistake again. My goal is to get somewhere around 40-50 plants in those rows on vertical trellises. I managed 27 plants on 4 separate trellises in 1 row last year.
Hot Peppers are finally getting demoted to the back end of my Sweet Pepper row this year. All my previous years I have done a full row of hot peppers – which is completely insane since I am the only one that eats them. 6 Cayenne plants and 2-4 Jalapeno plants will be the plan and I will shoot for 12 sweet pepper plants in that row.
I am planning 2 full rows for each Swiss Chard and Kale. That probably seems like a lot but all 4 of those rows are heavily shaded so growth will be slow. I plan to use Chard and Kale for salads everyday, juicing, and freezing for winter recipes.
I am planning an extra shaded row for Zucchini this year and demoting Crookneck Squash to the shady end as well. Moving most of the squashes into shaded rows is giving me a chance to put Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, and Peas into sunnier rows in an effort to get better yield from them.
Broccoli will get 2 full rows this year – shooting for 36 plants. I am moving them to sunnier rows closer to the house in an attempt to keep any groundhogs as far away from them as possible. Broccoli has always been the first thing assaulted by my arch nemesis each year.
I am going to give carrots, radishes, and beets another try in the garden. My soil is heavy with clay so I have struggled with root vegetables in the past but I have 4 years of putting organic compost into the soil now. Time to give them another shot. I will do onions in a raised bed this year. There is no possible way for me to grow all the onions and carrots we consume in this garden so I plant those for fun because we will buy at least 5 lbs of carrots and 2 lbs of onion every week.
I am planning to do better with Peas this year. They have always been an after thought in the garden and I don’t know why. We eat peas all the time. I am planning 3 vertical trellises with one each for shelling, snow, and snap peas.
I have 2 large “Potato Tower” bags that I got a few years ago. I am going to utilize them in the far left upper corner bed next to the Raspberry bush. Then I will also do a full row in the garden. I will probably plant all “Yukon Gold” potatoes as they are my favorite.
I am going to shoot for around 8-10 pumpkins in row 44. I will support them on old antique wooden step ladders. They work really good for sturdy supports. Last year I made pumpkin puree and this year I hope to expand that operation.
I feel like I have a pretty good plan in place. Now I will have to try not to re-write my plan a bunch of times and focus on the execution!