Okay, so my last post actually uploaded, so here’s hoping this one works, too!
I mentioned previously that the girls and I have been going over the layout of the grounds we have to work on, trying to figure out where we will be planting things. Today, I worked up a new diagram on the computer, this time keeping the satellite image in the background.
This is what we’ve got to work with; what I call the inner yard.
The long blue lines at the bottom (which is South) are fences. Black lines are around the house, storage house and garage. The one yellow line extending from the house is an important one for us to remember, when it comes time to making our permanent garden beds in the outer yard. There are pipes buried under there; water from the well next to the house, leading to the barn and to water fountains that were used when my parents still had cattle, and the septic pipe that diverts to the septic field, well away from house and barn. Since we plan to build accessible raised beds, and hopefully a polytunnel and/or greenhouse, we need to make sure to keep that area clear, in case we ever need to excavate it for repairs to the pipes.
The masses of green are treed areas. The spruce grove is on the right. The little yellow dot in there is where we will be planting the mulberry tree that will be arriving in the spring. We need to clear away dead spruces and underbrush, but there will be enough mature trees around it to protect it from the elements. Necessary, since it is a zone 4 tree and will need extra protection.
The blue rectangles are existing beds. The two little ones along the spruce grove are where the hard neck garlic is planted. I’ve marked where I will be making a third bed in that area. This is the only place we have soft soil, exposed when I cleaned up where the wood pile used to be. While clearing away the dead trees and underbrush around there, we will also be clearing the space where we are planning to build a cordwood shed to be used as an outdoor bathroom with composting toilet. No pit! The existing outhouse is between those beds and the garage to the south.
The blue next to the house is the old kitchen garden area, with its retaining wall of chimney blocks that we planted cucamelons in, last year. This is a bit of a problem area, overshadowed by two ornamental apple trees. There is also a double lilac, a honeysuckle and some roses in there that we will have to work around.
Then there is my mother’s old garden area!
The existing beds marked in blue are where we grew our squash and potatoes. The two little beds to the right are where the potatoes where. Summer squash were in the larger, North-South oriented beds. The long skinny bed on the north side had birdhouse gourds in it, but those got killed off by frost. The three East-West oriented beds had started out as pumpkin mounds, but when I cleaned it up for the winter, I turned them into larger beds.
The green rectangles are potential new plots. The slightly darker green ones are pretty much decided on, while the lighter green ones are in areas that are probably not worth putting beds in, but we could if we needed to. There is a row of self sown trees to the North of the existing beds that we really should take out; they should never have been allowed to grow there. They split my mother’s old garden area in a way that made a substantial part of the garden unusable. There’s also a chokecherry tree growing, all by itself, in the gap between two light green squares.
There is also a green garden area marked along the fence line to the south of the house. There should actually be two of them, on either side of the person gate, which is near that yellow line. On one side is where we will be planting cucamelons, using the chain link fence as a trellis. The other side will have tomatoes. Hopefully. The seeds have not arrived yet, so that will depend on whether they get here in time to be started indoors.
The bed I will be making next to the hard neck garlic will probably be for our 2 varieties of beets. Either that or carrots, given how soft the soil is there. We have 4 varieties of carrots to plant, so we’ll see.
The garden by the old kitchen will likely have our poppies, lettuces, and possibly the pink celery that will hopefully arrive in time.
The three beds that used to be pumpkin hills are where we will plant our three varieties of spinach. The longer beds on either side will have the bulb onions, likely interplanted with the purple Kohlrabi (onions repel insects that go after plants in the cabbage family). The former potato beds will have the shallots and bunching onions, and will likely have something interplanted with them, too. Possibly kale. We got purple kale as free seeds from Baker Creek, and we seem to be going with a pink and purple theme this year, so … we’ll see.
Speaking of purple, to the left of the existing beds is where we are planning to plant the purple corn. There are areas that can fit potential beds to the north and south. This whole area has to be carefully planned. Where the current beds are now will be permanent garden areas; I’m not so sure that where the corn will be planted will be included. With the horrible plow job that was done before we moved here, the area we’ll be putting the corn is the roughest (another reason we need that load of soil!), but where I’ve blocked off space for the corn is the best part. To the south, there’s too much shade from trees, so if we do make beds there, only shade friendly vegetables can be planted there. To the north, it’s basically lawn, and was never part of the original garden. I’ll touch on those areas, later.
Let’s leap over to the massive area on the right (east). There will be alternating blocks of corn and sunflowers there. We have 3 varieties of peaches and cream corn, and 2 varieties of giant sunflowers. We may interplant our 2 varieties of peas with the sunflowers, which can provide very strong supports for the peas to climb, while the peas fix nitrogen into the soil.
Legumes are supposed to be good to plant near corn, as corn depletes soil of nitrogen very quickly. We have 3 varieties of bush beans and, while I am considering staking them (which is supposed to help prevent fungal disease, rot and insect infestations), they are not climbers, so we won’t be interplanting them with the corn. They will go where I have two long strips near the big block. They are not as long as the block for corn and sunflowers, because of shade from the row of crab apple trees.
The other blocks will be used to plant summer squash, which I want to try staking this year, plus winter squash, gourds and melons on trellises and/or arches. Possibly peas, if we end up not interplanting them with the sunflowers. We have one more variety of corn that will be among those blocks, too.
We have two types of radishes, which will be interplanted with other things. Likely corn. Even though we will be able to buy soil that will enable us to do all this (barring some sort of emergency that takes up the funds), much of this area will later have fruit and nut trees planted in it. Anything we do to break up the soil will make it easier for us to dig holes to plant trees into.
It is with that in mind that we are breaking ground in areas that were never part of my mother’s garden. The area where we will be planting the corn and sunflowers is all grass, as is the strip along the north side. That row of self-sown trees is in the old garden area (my mother had a raspberry patch there, and when she transplanted the raspberries, she left the saplings). The old garden area extended a small plow’s width past them – and they are probably why the plow job on that side is as rough as it is (though it could also be that the person who did the plowing may have been drunk at the time). Planting on that north strip is another area we need to be wary of, as there are telephone lines buried somewhere in there.
There are a few other things we will be planting that are not on the layout. There are no potatoes on there. We are going to try using grow bags, or something similar, for our 4 varieties of potatoes this year. They will likely be set up in the south yard, near the storage house (the building marked off to the west of the house in the middle).
We also have to consider where we want to plant the purple asparagus. It has to be somewhere where they can stay for their 20 years of productive life! We also need to think about where to plant the strawberry spinach, which I’ve learn will self seed! So for those, we need to think about more permanent locations.
As you can see by the dark green lines around the inner yard, we are surrounded by trees. The spruce grove will need a lot of cleaning up, as it has so many dead and dying trees. There are a lot of poplars that are taking it over the south side of the spruce grow, and along the fence to the road, where my parents had planted elms and more apple trees. The apple trees there are too shaded to be able to produce. As I clean up all the little poplars, they will be used to build trellises and arches. As we can, we will plant more spruces in the spruce grove again! 😀 Eventually, I want to take out the fence leading to the road – it’s barbed wire, and many of the posts are already rotted and falling over. For now, though, it is needed in case the renter’s cows get through the fence around the outer yard again. 😀
The area on the far right, past the fence line and trees, is a flat area next to the ditch by the road. The north side of that area is going to be prepared for planting a mix of wildflower seeds in the fall. I want to make sure this area doesn’t get taken over by trees, as has happened on the other side of our driveway, which causes a number of problems, so we’ve been mowing it. Which is hard on the mower! Introducing native wildflowers will help solve that problem, while also encouraging native pollinators. That will be good for our future fruit and nut trees.
One of the problems with figuring out where to put things is that it’s really hard to maintain a perspective of just how much space there is, versus how much space we’ll actually need for what we’ll be planting! Things might change quite a bit, even based on how many of what we start indoors germinates. Everything is flexible, but this does give us a general idea of what we have to work with.
Oh, and somehow, we need to keep the deer out of all this!
That will probably be the biggest challenge of all.