Posted by on Nov 9, 2012 in Gardening | 8 comments

I haven’t shown this to her yet, but I’m willing to bet that this image will make Cassie squeal with excitement:

The organization and cleanliness of it all and having a solid idea to look at and imagine it in actual garden mode. I mean, if it’s getting me excited, it has to be doing the same for her.

And now for a whole bunch of text to explain whats going down.

As you can see, this is going to be an 80 foot long and 60 foot wide garden. We’re making sure that the middle aisle is wide enough (9′) that we can drive the tractor through to keep from walking too far when planting, collecting or weeding.

The back left side of the garden is going to be three compost areas. Two of them will be used to rotate back and forth throughout the growing season while one of them will be covered to cook the compost from the year previous. In front of that is a row of grapes, which for the past few years haven’t been used for anything, but we’re hoping to at least make some jelly next year out of them because after trying a couple this past summer, we’d be crazy not to.

The area in front of the grapes is currently empty, but it’s going to become our bush fruit area. As you can see, we’ll have rows of blackberries, raspberries, rhubarb (technically a veggie), blueberries and strawberries. We’re going to avoid vine species of the blackberries and raspberries, transplant our current blueberry plants and focus on June bearing strawberries, since they’re known to yield a larger crop than ever-bearing.

In front of that is an asparagus patch that I just recently cut back for the winter. My father in law was using some cedar split rail fence posts as a border, but since we’ll be replacing the current garden fence, I took some of the round fence posts out of the ground and replaced the split rail with those for a cleaner, more uniform look.

Next in line are four 4×8 raised beds that in addition to the 6 5×8 beds in front of them will be used to rotate crops in order to ensure the soil stays healthy. The bed labeled “garlic” is where the compost spent all summer baking, which is exactly the kind of soil garlic prefers. Next to the garlic is a bed which currently houses our compost, but all of that will be moved to the compost area in the back, so we’ll plant some onions in this bed. Next to it, you’ll see some zucchini going in, which when paying attention to rotating crops, will do well following the onions that were there this past summer. The next bed over will be our head lettuce, following the cucumbers from this past summer.

The previously mentioned 5×8 beds are in a whole new section of garden that is currently still grass. We plan to leave the grass in the aisles and till and raise the soil within the beds to accommodate the new fruit and vegetable plants we’ll be putting in there. The bed labeled “melons” will actually be watermelon and cantaloupe grown up a trellis. After doing a little research, it seems that doing it this way is the best for the fruit and allows you to grow more in less space.

Next door you’ll see pumpkins and squash, which are actually going to be the smaller pie pumpkins and yellow squash, which we might very well grow the same way as the melons. The next bed over is going to be Brussels sprouts and broccoli, which we tend to eat a lot of both, so we’ll see if this space is enough for those two. The nice thing about broccoli is that you can freeze it, so it’d be difficult to have too much of it. The three beds below are going to be cucumbers, which will also be on a trellis, radishes and cabbage, two of the veggies we eat the least, and celery and cauliflower, which we might end up swapping with one of the row crops because we eat the two of these quite a bit as well.

Speaking of the row crops, let’s get to the right side of the garden.

We were torn whether we should build a lot of raised beds or not, bu the cost of the frames is expensive and while you can simply raise a bed without the frame, we decided we’d just go with rows on the right side this year.

As you can see, the very back is going to be our potato area. Potatoes are one of those things you can’t really go wrong planting a lot of because as long as you have a dark, cool place to store them, they’ll last for months.

In front of the potatoes we’ll plant corn with three types of squash (acorn, spaghetti and butternut) and dry beans mixed in the area. After my father-in-law planted and told me about the three sisters this past summer, I figured that if it’s been done for thousands of years, who am I to mess with it?

Below this area, the rest of the rows are pretty self explanatory. We’ll trellis the beans and peas and then build supports for the tomato plants and put cages around the peppers and eggplant.

All of the weeding, bed preparation and support building will be done throughout the winter so that everything is ready for spring. Also, instead of the 4×4 posts as previously mentioned, we’re going to put up a basic fence next year using 7′ metal t-posts and deer fence and go with the more complex one the year after. Aesthetically it won’t be too pretty the first year, but for now all we’re worried about is keeping the deer out and producing as much food as we can for as little money as we can.

Getting the garden situated is going to be one of my main projects for the next few months and will be a big part of this blog next year, so you’ll definitely be hearing more about everything I’m learning and building and planting and all of that fun stuff as time goes by!

The next step is to continue removing all of the weeds and other plant matter that collected while it was being neglected this past year.

The fun part, right?