Thursday, February 10

The Planning Begins.....

No that is not my gardening shed, but I am in love with it. I can still dream.....

My first batch of ordered seeds arrived a while ago (FAST - thanks Baker Creek!) and this weekend I am going to break out the graph paper and sharpen the pencils. It's garden planning time.

My garden dimensions for this coming season are 34 feet X 32 feet, and 25 feet X 15 feet. About the same size as last year, although this year I am going to do things differently.

First, I am going to make shorter, north to south rows instead of the longer east to west I did last year. I think this will accomplish 2 things: One, I will be able to concentrate on having one or two rows for each variety of plant I want to grow, thus minimizing take-over cucumber and pumpkin vines. And two, I will be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. I am taking about weeding. I want to weed short rows. I am lazy, I need to be watching a two year old while I do this, and I want that sense of accomplishment in being able to set a goal of weeding a whole row in one trip to the garden.

Secondly, I am going to plow the end of the 34 X 32 right up to the end of the field so I can better keep the pumpkin, gourd and cucumber vines out of the rest of the garden. Last year I had a terrible time with the gourds thinking it was ok to use the tomato plants as climbing devices and they wrapped their little tentacles around my tomatoes and their cages, probably playing a large role in my tomato cage failure and high stress level. I will let them grow into the field where I won;t have to worry so much about invasion or mowing accidents.

That reminds me - does anyone know if I can plant cucumbers on a low/small trellis? I think it would help minimize the space their vines take up and it would keep the cukes off the ground.

Third, I am still considering corn again this season even though it does not do well at all. If for anything else, I like to use the stunted stalks for fall decoration. Should I go for it and use space or should I plant a few in with my flowers?

That is the neat little thing i am going to do this year. My little rebellious garden uprising. I am going to, ok get ready for this - I am going to plant vegetables in with my flower beds! Shocking, I know. I am quite a revolutionary. I love the flowers, but they do take time. They require a lot of weeding and I really just don't have the time in the day unless I get a 12-hour babysitter. So, instead of planting annuals among the perennials, I am going to stick in peppers, tomatoes, and some corn. No pumpkins or gourds due to the invasion tendencies. I think this will save me money on annuals, provide more vegetables for us and if I plan it right, i might be able to eliminate some of the weeding that I hate.

Forth and finally, I have strawberries. Turns out that when Roy tilled up the new 25 X 15 garden last spring, he brought out a ton of dormant (?) strawberry plants. All last summer the flooded the pumpkins and tomatoes like advanced infantry and I was torn as to whether I should let them stay or rip them up. At the time they were causing havoc in my rows so I took them. Don't worry, they came back, big time. This year i am going to save them. They will have their own rows and when i see one plant not conforming to my rigid garden plan, it will be dug up and replanted in a row-like fashion. So, I will hopefully have a nice little crop of strawberries this summer and I didn't have to spend a penny.

I found a good website that offers a lot of useful, easy advice. Vegetable Garden Planning is a good, straight- forward resource.

As always, garden advice is welcome - especially for tomato cage ideas. Also, does anyone out there use a soaker hose system in their garden? I have been thinking about one since it would free me of those annoying back and forth sprinklers that are always breaking. And I am hoping it could hook it up the the rain barrels we might be getting. Any advice?

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