Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Planning the Garden for 2012

There are no doubt lots of other things I could/should be putting my time on these last days of January rather than garden planning. I mean it's still more than two months until I can even think of starting seeds inside. But because I didn't garden last year (ask me if I'm eager to get my hands back in the dirt this year), and because of all those luscious seed catalogs piled on my desk, I just can't stop myself. The official Garden Planning Book (ratty, old 3-ring binder) has come out and I'm plotting out the raised beds, field garden and pumpkin patch.

We've got twenty-six 4 x 8' raised beds, a field garden (part of it shown above) approximately 35 x 45' and a plot I plant to pumpkins and/or squash that is 14 x 23'.

Certain crops lend themselves more to the raised beds, others to the open plots of ground.

In my raised beds, the soil is very good which enables me to plant intensively. This also makes the beds easy to maintain because very few weeds grow in between the veggies.

I have cold frames that fit on top of the raised beds which enable me to start some things much earlier than I would be able to without the added frost protection of the cold frames. Our summers are (usually) cooler than needed for tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers so I leave the cold frames (with tops open during the day) on these veggies through the summer and into fall to extend our short, short growing season.

So, the crops that will go in the raised beds this year are:

- cherry tomatoes
- beets

- storage onions
- scallions
- salad greens

- Swiss chard
- radishes

-sweet peppers
- carrots
- spinach
- lettuce
- slicing cucumbers
- lemon cucumbers
- broccoli

In the field garden I'll plant:

- shell peas

- bush beans

- potatoes
- pickling cucumbers
- dill
- cabbage
- full sized tomatoes
- sweet corn

- red kuri squash

That leaves the pumpkin patch for:

- small pie pumpkins
- large jack-o-lantern pumpkins

I haven't planted full sized tomatoes or sweet corn in a couple/few years but last summer was so warm I decided to give them a try again. I just hope I don't jinx all hopes of us having a nice, hot summer this year by my planting of corn and tomatoes! I'll still have to give them some protection, probably hot caps over the corn early on and some kind of plastic cages for the tomatoes.

That's the start of planning for my 2012 garden. Now to go through my stash of seeds and see if I need to order more of anything.

I hope this post wasn't boring as all-get-out for you, dear readers. It sure did help me start thinking about this year's gardening. The colorful pictures gave me a boost in this kinda drab time of year, too.


Anonymous said...

Not boring at all, Mama Pea. In fact, quite lovely to behold on this snowy and windy winter day! Thank you. (spring is coming!)

Deb said...

beautiful garden! we'll be starting in a week or so here as well. We do start seeds inside and I think we are behind are normal planning but it will all work out. BTW--I made your italian bread and cheesy bread--yumo! and linked to your blog in my most recent post. thanks for sharing the deliciousness!

Jennifer said...

Wow, how could you leave that beautiful garden untouched last year? I would give anything for that much space and sun and I can't go without home grown tomatoes. I like your cold frames, we are trying to either put in some of those or get row covers, haven't decided which.

Sparkless said...

It will be more like 3-4 months before I can plant anything. I don't have room to start any plants inside from seed early so I have to wait.
I love hearing about everyone's garden plans. I'm thinking of expanding my garden and even adding a fruit tree or two.

Cat Eye Cottage said...

Wow, those beds and veggies are gorgeous! I'm green-eyed and wild with envy! Good luck with your garden this year.

Karen L. said...

Well swell! While you have been planning your garden, I have been salivating over your photos of all those wonderful veggies!!! So, I am off to get a snack.

Carolyn said...

It's nice to see all the garden pictures...and of COURSE we aren't bored with seed & gardening stuff....we're ALL thinking the same things! :)

Carolyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mama Pea said...

Mooberry Farmwife - I was surprised at how much I liked looking through my pictures of garden stuff to find these for this post. I don't know we're all hungry for the fresh vegetables or the vibrant colors!

Deb - Loved going over to your blog and seeing the garlic cheese bread! You're very welcome for the recipe.

Jennifer - Well, sad to say, I couldn't garden last year because of the big, fat, ol' remodeling project we had going on here. Good luck with your garden . . . there's ALWAYS something new to try each year.

Sparkless - I can't set anything out in the garden (without protective covering) until the first week of June, most years. Do expand your garden if at all possible. The cost of food is only going to go up, up, up!

The Weekend Homesteader - Thank you very much!

Karen L. - Unfortunately, we can't buy anything that tastes as good as fresh out of the garden, can we?

Carolyn Renee - Doesn't it seem we're "gardening" early this year? It's still January, for Pete's sake!

I haven't been able to comment on your blog 'cause I can't get a comment box to pop up. Rest assured I'm still reading all the time though. :o(

@JDHealingTimeOnEarth said...

Hello! Long time reader, but I rarely comment. Could you expand on how your raised beds are covered? Maybe a quick photo or two of the construction and how they fit over/on the edge of the bed?
I currently am doing hoops, but there are several things about that that are less than convenient and I would sure consider an alternative. Thank you in advance!

Qwaynt said...

lots father ahead then i ever would be

Sherry said...

Your garden area is so pretty, I love raise beds, I have just 3 and a garden area, more are to come though, Do you plant the same things together all the time? Have a great night.

Anonymous said...

I love your cold frames!

Sue said...

I like the "lids" on your cold frames. Oh no-I see ANOTHER project for hubby! He just LOVES when I glean ideas and make more projects for him--LOL!

You'll have to garden for me. Looks like no garden for me this year. I shall be planting and leaving it. Can you come water once a week for me?

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

There should be a law against showing green garden pictures this time of year! As I stare out at grey, and mud, and drizzle. It is like offering a kid candy then taking it away. :P

Mama Pea said...

Clare - Hi, and thanks for commenting! I did a blog post a couple of years ago on the construction, etc. of our cold frames. If you go to the Search button over on my right hand side bar (scroll a ways down) and type in "cold frames", a list of posts should come up. The one you're looking for should be the second one listed entitled, "We Need All the Help We Can Get." Hope this gives you the info you want. There are pros and cons to all of the different ways of covering crops and ours isn't perfect, for sure, but it does a good job for us.

Qwaynt - You do a great job of gardening!

Blackberry brambles - No, I rotate what goes in each bed and what goes where in the other plots every year. (Except for my herb bed, that is.)

Thanks, Stephanie. It would be hard to garden up here without them!

Sue - Bite your tongue! Don't say "no garden!" You'll only be gone a month, right? (ONLY a month??) When you come home you'll have some damage control to do but I have faith you'll end up with your usual fantastic gardens.

If I could get to your house and back in a morning or afternoon, you bet I'd come water once a week!

Jane - We are all in sad shape. I keep going back to look at the pictures in this post and kind of salivating over the lush green-ness. Hard to believe it's the same world out there in July compared to January, isn't it?

Tom Stewart said...

Boring? Are you kidding? With the way the weather has been, I want to be out there today! But I know that mother nature is keeping a lid on colder weather for us later on.
I do have Garlic growing in one of my raised beds and weeds in a couple more.
Big plans for this coming spring! Putting up a hoop house to raise Rabbits in and plant fall crops in, and adding more raised beds. I like your "Cold Frames" and may I please steal the idea?
Also we will have a field garden this year, full of squash and pumpkins. This will be the food garden for the Worms and I hope it will draw the Deer away from the main garden!

Susan said...

It's just crazy how happy this post has made me! First - I am so glad you are going full-tilt into your garden this year. Second - it is so wonderful to see a seasoned garden created by someone who knows her bush beans, so to speak. It gives the rest of us naifs the courage to start new seeds! I will be watching with bated breath...

Mama Pea said...

Tom Stewart - Wow, lots of plans for spring in your future! I look forward to seeing them all on your blog. Feel free to steal the idea of our cold frames to use in your garden. You're welcome!

Susan - I'm certainly no expert at gardening but it is something I LOVE to do so am really looking forward to this year. And also looking forward to seeing everyone else's gardens starting to take shape via the blog posts.

Unknown said...

Absolutely not boring, it was great to see the pictures of the stuff growing. This will be my first year of SFG and using raised beds... I am so looking forward to growing wonderful produce like you...

Mama Pea said...

Aran M Cockburn - I think you'll really like the raised beds. They give you a lot for a little space!

Erin said...

I'm so happy we get to see you back in your garden this year! I bet this year your bell peppers will be awesome if this weird weather holds! This year you get to carry all those baskets of garden picking' into that new kitchen to wash up!

Mama Pea said...

Erin - I was yammering on to hubby about everything I've planned for the garden just an hour ago when we walked out to get the mail. I'm even trying some hot peppers(!) to have to put some zing in our stir fries!! Can. Hardly. Wait. (Even doing an experimental patch of . . . CORN!)

Quilter Kathy said...

Wow! That is a huge garden plan! Exciting!

Mama Pea said...

Quilter Kathy - Thank you for commenting. I really do love to garden (plus I know it's good for me physically!) and we try to grow as much of our own food as we can. We've also raised produce to sell to a local restaurant and, of course, give away a lot of it. I'm really eager for this year's growing season!

Leigh said...

I have pumpkin envy. :) Loved this post! So glad I had time this morning to scroll down through posts I had previously missed. Your garden is so similar to what we're aiming for (beds & field), except my beds don't have such neat looking frames. :) And speaking of frames, I love the add on cold frame idea! I am realizing that my beds are too long; we weren't thinking when we made them. Still, I'm discovering how wonderful they are. :)

Mama Pea said...

Leigh - Our raised beds are 15 years old and some of the wood is so deteriorated it needs to be replaced. Hubby keeps trying to talk me into longer (than the 8') beds because it would save material and time in building. And having to mow or weed inbetween so many beds. But I'm only 5'3" and since it's reeeeallly a stretch to reach to the center of the 4' width, and I can't step over the 4', I am constantly having to walk around the ends of the beds. If they were, for instance 16' long, that would be much more restrictive than the 8' length. Also I never step on the soil in the beds so it doesn't get compacted which I think helps a lot. Nope, 4 x 8' beds is as big as I want to go.

Lisa said...

I'm so envious of your garden(s)! Some of your past photos and posts were instrumental in inspiring us to put in raised beds last year and we're now in the process of preparing our beds and amending our soil for this year's garden. Even though last year's harvest expectations were not met, we learned SO much and found new vegetables that we love to eat simply because we tried a few new ones. I hope your garden is a success for you this year! I know you'll enjoy 'playing in the dirt'!

Mama Pea said...

Lisa - No matter how many years we garden, I think we learn something every single year. And there are so very many things we can (try to) grow in our gardens! So many seeds, so little time.

Let's hope we ALL have a great gardening season in 2012!`