Monday, March 9, 2015

Garden Planning.

With a serious case of cabin fever set in and one million and one plans and ideas for the garden I figured I would sit down and get them all together. Since I'm doing that I thought I would share them with you too. We moved 3 years July. So no garden that year. Last year I got it mostly on the right track but since I was starting from a virgin yard I only got so far. This year I am very excited to expand and incorporate some of the ideas I have picked up over the the winter.
Mulching Asparagus bed.

I'm a no till kinda girl. I've found that layering, mulching, raised beds and containers (of a sort), work the best for me. I've already blogged about planning the annual and perennial parts of the garden and how to make those fill your pantry, so I'll skip that (PLEASE feel free to read earlier blogs).

Once you have seeds in hand your ready to go. Or if you don't have, then you want to order what you need to plant to fill in your plan. My seed catalog go to is I've always been happy with what they have to offer and I'm a creature of habit so I get most of my seeds from them. Jo Rellime has a great article talking about planning and researching to find the best things to plant for your area. 

I mix my own seed starting mix but there are great mixes that you can buy at your your local garden depot. If your interested in mixing you own Ken Peavey has a great post with the details of how to get started and and how to reuse what you already may have.   He also describes repotting and planting.



So, now we've planned, ordered, started and were ready to plant outside.

Like I said I'm no till. But there are things that I really like to plant in the ground. Asperagus, horseradish and corn are a few. For these things, and the list could all the way through your garden, I use a sheet mulching method. Several layers of newspaper or a layer of cardboard covered with wood mulch, leaves, compost, straw, manure anything compostable. This will block out the grass and weeds from growing and as it decomposes it will attract earthworms and add nutrition to the soil.
We love the heat from Horseradish mixed in sandwich spreads.

But it does take a while. So, what do you do in the meantime?

Last year I got my garden rollin'. But this year I plan to expand. So on the new parts I intend to sheet mulch. On top of the sheet mulch I want to go ahead and be able to plant and am going to use several methods that later I will be able to break apart and spread for next year.

For potatoes this year I intend to do a raised beds from straw bales.  I have had good luck with this in the past. Around the top of the straw bales I plan to plant cherry tomatoes. If you plan to plant directly into the straw bales finding some that have set out in the weather is easiest. It takes a little more than you would think to get them saturated This will more than double duty the space that I am using. For this season the plants can grow and in the fall I can spread the bales around my garden for next year.
Another idea is using bags of potting mix to start plants directly in.  I can't find a picture that will share well, (have it pinned on Pinterest under gardening) but  I will lay the bag of potting mix on top of the sheet mulch. Cutting a rectangle out of the top I will seed with things like lettuce, kale and other greens.

Another idea is packing a pallet full of soil and laying that on the fresh sheet mulch.
 Sheri Fox has this and some other great garden ideas.I think this would work great with cabbage. 

Most of my original garden is planted in tires that I cut the sidewalls out of.
Doesn't look like much in this picture. I was adding and resetting some of it. Once it gets going it becomes a total jungle. I like laying out my garden and leaving the grass for the walkways. Here in SE Illinois we can have very wet spring weather. The grass allows me to continue to work in my garden regardless. Borage and Dill grow volunteer all around. I use cattle panels as trellis to grow the tomatoes and cucumbers, peas, spaghetti squash and gourds.
The tires in the front that you can see were then layered with newspaper, straw, compost and leaves. I planted Zucchini in them.
As soon as the weather cooperates I will be able to start posting my actual progress with all these ideas. Hope you'll follow along!