Archives for February 21, 2011

The (big) Garden Plans

Have I ever mentioned how much I love gardening?
(It’s so easy to say that in February! Please remind me that I feel this way mid to late summer.)
But after all, my middle school nickname was “nature girl.” 
(a step up from Ginny “arm”pitts which is a lovely derivative of my maiden name)
Then, in high school, the big career predictor exam that we all had to take said that I should pursue a career in farming.  I sort of went that route in college, but there are a lot of courses that I wish I had taken had I known what path I would eventually end up on (you know the “had a baby and never got a paying job” path.)  I mainly focused on disease, which would have been great for the career I planned to pursue, but isn’t as helpful on our little homestead.
While we can’t exactly call ourselves farmers yet, for now we have a big garden, a bunch of chickens, and a bunch of kids.  It’s always good to have a bunch of farm kids, so we are heading in the right direction I think.

Planning a garden is a lot of work!  I spent nearly a week just getting my seed order together.  This year I kept Carrots Love Tomatoes close at hand as I started my preliminary layout plans along with my gardening bible, the book that is stained and dirty from constant use all season every year, How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method.
I am so excited about our garden this year, about exploring companion planting, and trying to beat the squash bugs!  After nearly nine years of working on our layout and techniques, we are finally finding our groove, I think (I hope.)  I can’t tell you how many hours we have spent working on this garden over the years.  When visitors arrive late spring, we are always quick to explain our messy house by giving tours of our garden.  You can’t have it all looking good, you know?
A couple of days ago, I took a little walk around the garden, snapping photos and making notes about the general state of things:

(cilantro planted last fall, wasn’t even mulched heavily, still alive!)

(strawberry beds under straw)

(peeking out!)

(basil gone to seed last fall-will use this seed to grow basil with my asparagus this year)

(garlic planted last fall.  bought at the local farm store.  i don’t even know what kind it is!  It should be ready to harvest early summer.) 

(crimson clover)

(I planted lots of crimson clover as a winter cover.  It should bloom in May, if not a bit earlier with this early warm weather we are experiencing.  Despite the fact that I plant this as a green manure, I love the blossoms so much that I hesitate to turn any of it under before it has bloomed!)

It’s so incredible to me, the life inside a seed.  Surely I will have the energy to get them all planted before the baby is born.  I am not sure how genius it was to place my biggest seed order ever, the year I am entering my third trimester just as it’s time to start planting!  It would be awfully nice to have everything planted and mulched so that I can just relax for a few weeks and watch everything grow while I recover from birth.  That is always our plan:  to get everything in the ground, then mulch, mulch, mulch.  We are mainly no till and rely heavily on cardboard, newspaper, and organic mulches to keep the weeds down so we don’t have to kill ourselves managing things all summer.  I do have three strong boys of course.  They were a big help last year for the first time really, and I do intend to have them helping this year!
Does anyone want to see my garden plan?  Oh good, then I will show you!  I draw it in pencil every year because I like having a pencil drawn version rather than a copied ink one (so I am not sure how well you can read it, but maybe if you click on them to make them bigger.)  I haven’t gotten everything planned yet-not at all.  But you can see some preliminary thoughts and the layout.  Keep in mind that while we have been growing vegetables for nine years now, I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing most of the time.  I really do keep my “gardening bible” on hand at all times!  Maybe one day things will start to sink in and I will be really knowledgeable.  But probably not.  Mostly I can tell you what we do, but can rarely remember why-Why? because I read something, somewhere, one day, a long time ago…
I’ll show you the list of seeds I ordered too, just in case anyone’s curious about that.  Keats helped me choose a lot of them.  It’s good to go ahead and get the kids involved right from the start as that gets them excited and helps stave off some of the grumbling that will come when I put them to work.  You know, if you want orange watermelons, you’re going to have to work for them!

So, I think this should keep me pretty busy.  Maybe I won’t even notice the whole labor and birth thing when it happens.  I’ll just wake one day realizing that my garden’s all planted, and I’ve got a dear new baby snuggled next to me.  How’s that for wishful thinking?