Considering this is the first year we've owned the farm that I haven't been 1) pregnant or 2) recovering from a C-Section, I feel like I finally have the energy to move forward with major overhauls to the landscape (and boy, does it need it!). The first move is going to be installing a new vegetable and cutting garden. While surely not all of my plans can be implemented this year, here is what I'm hoping to achieve over the next two-to-three years.
Sorry the numbers are hard to read, but here is a basic explanation of the layout:
- The dimensions of the garden are about 75' x 60', delineated (at some point in the future) by some sort of fencing (either picket or iron). A 5' arbor entrance is wide enough to allow for garden tractors and wheelbarrows for maintenance (I'd love to cover the arbor with wisteria or climbing roses, and maybe old-fashioned hollyhocks on either side as you enter). The central pathway is also large enough for said equipment
- For now, all the sections of the garden will be mounded soil as raised beds. Down the road, perhaps I'll install fancy stonework or hemlock/cider boards to contain the soil
- Sections 1 and 2 will be used for flowers. I'm thinking zinnias, dahlias, cosmos, strawflower, cornflower, and coneflower. I'll probably add tulip and daffodil bulbs come fall for quick color next spring
- Sections 3 and 4 will be reserved for strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. We currently have some blackberries and raspberries that grow on the farm, but they are in a not-so-good position and I'd love to move them to a more centralized location. Maybe down the road, I'll add a currant bush or two. Space will be reserved for other perennials/bushes like horseradish and rhubarb (we have both on the property now, but again, in a tough, overgrown bed)
- Section 5 (if not used for berries) will be saved for grapes. We have TONS of grapevines on the property, but just not in a great location. I don't really know if one can transplant grapevine, but it might be neat to try!
- Sections 6 and 11 are for "viney" plants - melons, pumpkins, gourds, cucumbers zucchini and squash (mmm, just thinking about butternut squash ravioli make me drool)
-Sections 7 and 8 will be all tomatoes, all the time. I'm really hoping to be able to exclusively use canned tomatoes from my own garden. I'll be planting Roma tomatoes (the classic for canning), as well as Beefsteak for tomato-and-mayo sandwiches and little currant tomatoes for salads
- Section 9 is saved for peppers, both sweet and hot. I love hot pepper jelly (spread on a brick of cream cheese and popped in the oven for a few minutes... mmm), and homemade salsa, so peppers are a must. For sections 7, 8, and 9, I'll incorporate marigolds to help ward off beetles and other nasty buggers who like to lunch on tomatoes and peppers
- Section 10 will feature lettuce, microgreens, and other leafy veggies, like Swiss chard. Since lettuce can be harvested in the spring and fall, I want to keep it close to entrance for easy access. I imagine there will be plenty of room here to keep broccoli as well
- Section 12 and 13 will be for root veggies like potatoes, garlic, onions, parsnips, turnips, radishes and carrots
- Section 14 will have a trellis system for beans and peas (honestly, we don't eat much of either, so there will probably be more carrots here as space provides)
- Section 15 will be the herb garden. Lots of basil, chives, parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, lavender, dill, marjoram, thyme, and mint. I'm getting excited thinking about all the summertime cocktails and teas I can infuse with herbaceous blends and simple syrups
I realize this sounds like a lot for a family of four. It is, no doubt. I don't think I'll have full beds this year, but I am hoping to at least lay the foundation for future expansion. I also am dedicated to canning, freezing and preserving as much as I can and frequently use goodies from my garden/kitchen as gifts for birthdays and holidays. So while it seems like a lot of work up front, it makes a heck of a lot of sense in the long run. Plus, it's just a really awesome feeling to be (somewhat) self-sufficient. Now, if I could just convince Dave about that windmill...
Any tips and tricks that you would like to impart on gardening? Funny stories? Favorite flowers, fruits or veggies you love to grow? I would love to hear! Stay tuned for more news and inspiration on my edible garden as well as some suggestions for urban- and suburbanites for growing your own food.