A while back, I used a satellite image to plan where we could plant our garden this year.
Getting a gasp of dimensions was difficult on this, though, but at least it could be used as a guide. Things need to be pretty flexible at this point, anyhow.
With the snow clearing away, we have been getting into the areas and realized that there was a lot more room to the West of the existing beds than there appeared to be, in the satellite image.
Here is the areas with the existing beds where we had planted squash last year.
The perspective makes it look a bit strange.
Two years ago, the area where the green marked beds are was mulched with straw, then covered with black … tarps? Possibly landscaping fabric? Whatever it was we salvaged when cleaning up the old wood pile. That log marks one of the corners of the area we mulched. This made a HUGE difference in the workability of the soil when we planted last year, as well as killing off a lot of the grass and weeds. This area was no longer hard as concrete, and could actually be worked, though we did still dig out pockets to fill with a soil mix that we could transplant into, because of all the rocks.
The long bed in the back has bamboo poles marking where I’d stuck the seed potatoes found last fall that, for some reason, didn’t sprout but still looked completely fresh. There is one more potato than I had poles to mark the spots with. 😀 When the garden was prepped for winter, that bed was actually widened a bit, so even if the potatoes do miraculously start to grow, there is room for something in front. Which will probably not be use this year, but it’s an option. If we are unable to get rid of that row of self-sown trees, then we will likely create a series of long, narrower, bed with trellises on the North side, for any climbing plants we decide to grow in the future.
Then there are the three beds down the middle, which used to be pumpkin mounds, with longer beds on either side. The three beds down the middle are all the about same size, while the two on either end are almost exactly the same size as each other. With our current plan, the three smaller beds in the middle will have our three varieties of spinach, while the larger beds on either side will have two of our varieties of onions, which in turn will probably be interplanted with other things. Possible kale and kholrabi, as the onions will help protect them from insects. We shall see.
In the back of the photo is a purple block which is where we are planning to plant the Montana Morado corn. That leaves a surprisingly large space (in orange) that didn’t get marked on the satellite image, where we can plant something else. Perhaps one of the three bush bean varieties can go there.
After we dig out the huge rock that’s half buried in there. When this area was plowed last, the person who did it went around the rock, creating a hill in one area, and a low spot in the other. This is one of the roughest areas of the entire old garden space. Even where the Montana Morado corn will be planted in ridiculously rough.
As you can see, there is a substantial area in shadow, so there is quite a bit of space that can only have shade loving plants. Most of what we have requires full sun, and even the cool weather plants still need more sun than those areas get. An unplanned consequence of my parents crowding more and more trees into what used to be part of the garden.
Still, it is here that we are intending to make permanent, accessible, raised bed gardens. The plots we have now do not have the dimensions needed for that (which must include the paths as well as the raised beds), so even here, everything we do is temporary. One of the reasons this area was chosen for permanent gardening is its nearness to a water source, and to the house itself. Accessible raised beds will also be high enough to address the shadow problem, at least somewhat.
Now to the other side…
In the foreground is one of the old squash beds marked off in the earlier photo. The smaller two beds are where we had potatoes last year, and where we hope to plant the shallots and bunching onions, if the seedlings survive. Those two beds are a bit under 4″x8″ in size (or a little more than 1m x 2m), to give you some perspective.
All the orange area will be for new garden beds. Most of it was part of the old garden that had been plowed before we moved here. Of that space, the only area that has seen and mulching was where we planted the sunflowers. As with the squash, we dug holes and filled them with a soil mix, in which we planted the sunflowers, because of how hard and full of rocks the soil is. As we were able, we added grass clippings around the seedlings for mulch.
The furthest we’d planted the sunflowers are almost to the very end of the row of crab apple trees. Again, for perspective, we could just barely reach those ones with 260′ of garden hose – almost 80 meters.
Way in the back, at the corner, there is a large L shape inside the orange area that has never had any garden in it. We will be working this area for gardening for the first time. I would estimate the orange area, along the edge on the right, near the old potato beds, to be probably 250′, or about 76 meters, long. The far end, along the fence line, is probably 300’/91m.
Funny. It sounds so much bigger when I write that down. When I’m standing in the middle of it, remembering the garden of my childhood, it feels very… small.
The orange area gets full sun, up until you get close to the crab apple trees that are beyond the right edge of the photo. It gets very hot and dry, so we will have our work cut out for us to grow the corn, sunflowers, beans, peas, melons, radishes, summer and winter squash, and gourds we intend to plant there. Getting water that far out from the house is going to be the biggest challenge.
Part of the goal in breaking soil here is for the future planting of nut trees. Many varieties do very well in poor conditions, but not all. Any improvement of the soil will give them a better chance of survival, and when we’re talking about something that may not produce for at least ten years, any losses have much longer term effects.
The orange area closest to the green areas may become part of the permanent garden beds on this side of the house, but that has yet to be determined. Our plans still need to be very flexible at this point.
After taking these photos this morning, I also took photos of the spruce grove areas we need to work on.
Here are out garlic beds. Another bed will be created to the left, near the current compost ring location. There will likely be beets grown there.
The mess of little trees beyond the garlic beds all need to be cleared out. The ones with whitish trunks are poplar trees, and there are many, many, MANY more of them growing towards the garage, and then down towards the road. They also keep trying to come up in the yard. I had not realized how invasive they could be! These will become the materials to build trellises and arbors for our climbing plants.
The darker colours stems that you see are mostly cherry, from a parent plan from Poland. Something we saw happen since we’ve moved here, and probably happens often, is that the cherries start to bloom quite early in the spring, as soon as it warms up. This, however, is Canada, not Poland, and they got hit by a late frost. This killed off the trees that had bloomed. New shoots, however, come up from the base. So what we’ve got is a lot of dead cherry trees, surrounded by immature new growth.
Cherry trees, we’ve learned, also spread by their roots. I had to deal with that while clearing out the area under the old wood pile, so we could plant carrots, beets and parsley here, last year.
So we’ve decided all of that is going to be cleaned out, as far back as we can. It’s a huge area, and the clean up will likely be done in stages over several years. We don’t want to take too long on that, though, because this is where we would like to plant berry bushes and fruit trees.
Then there’s this area…
Every red line marks a dead spruce tree. The two on the left, by the junk pile, are the ones closest to the house that we were already looking to hire someone to take down for us, along with the dead spruce by the garage and outhouse. Counting that one, there’s a dozen dead spruces that need to be taken down, before they fall down, in this area. There are also plenty of fallen trees that need to be cleaned up, along with the junk pile and the spirea (which is hiding at least one, maybe two, fallen trees). There are Saskatoon bushes beyond the junk pile that we want to clean up around, including removing some chokecherries, which will provide them with the air flow and sunshine they need to thrive. So far, none of these has shown signs of disease.
In the middle of the photo, tucked into where there are so many dead trees, is where we planned to plant the mulberry tree that’s set to arrive later in the spring, in time for planting in our zone. We chose this location, because it’s a zone 4 tree and needs the protection the other trees will provide (the ones still alive, anyhow), and still get a lot of sunlight. With so many dead trees to take down first, however, I’m almost thinking we might want to put it in a pot until next year!
In the foreground, behind the compost ring, is where we intend to build the cordwood outdoor bathroom. I had been upset that we were not able to at least get started on leveling a foundation for it last year, due mostly to the excessive heat, but now that I’ve realized how many dead trees there are, I’m glad it didn’t happen. Any one of those trees could come down in a storm or high winds. Can you imagine doing all that work to build a cordwood shed, only to have a tree fall on it?
Oh, and along with these, I was able to make my way through the spruce grove near the fence line and take a closer look. I found five more dead trees. Those ones are not as urgent to take down, though. It’s the ones near the house and garage that have priority. Of course, there are the trees that have already fallen that need to be cleaned out, too. Focus that far out, however, will be on the south end of the spruce grove, along the driveway, where there are almost no spruces left. Lots of little poplars to take out, and probably some larger ones, too, and lots of underbrush, fallen trees and dead branches to clear away. Only then can we figure out if the crab apple trees my mother planted in there can be salvaged. They’re not as overshadowed as the other ones I found near the maple grove, but last spring, I only saw one branch bloom, and no apples produced. I think I would rather take those out and transplant more spruces in that area, and save the fruit trees for better locations. There are a number of little, self-sown spruce trees that I would rather transplant than get rid of. I’ve had to kill enough trees while cleaning up, already, and will have to do more. If transplanting some is an option, I will be happy to take it!
So those are our plans to work on for this year.
Let’s see how many of them actually work out!