The Garden: Take Two


February 19, 2013 by Kriscinda Lee Everitt

Moggy's helping me draft the new garden plans.

Moggy’s helping me draft the new garden plans.

Remember way back when, when I was so excited to be having a big veggie garden, and I went a little nuts? Well, you can’t blame me, right? We ordered and received all of those seeds, but we won’t be growing them all right away, as it turns out. We have all the space in the world in the garden, but not enough space indoors to start the seeds. And besides, the logistics of starting all the seeds for the different crops (including the cooler weather crops), building the beds, compost area, and rain barrel system, along with the eventuality of the hoop(ty) house—well, it’s too much for my mushy brain to handle right off the bat.

So, we’ve decided this: we’re jettisoning the cool-weather crops for now, and depending on how things go, if we can get the hoopty house up and functional early enough, we’ll consider them for the fall season. I’m also holding off on my broom corn, my cotton plants, and my peanuts. Which makes me sad, but I’ll be good to go next year (and I’ll have a season’s learning under my belt).

I spent a good bit of time in the last few days redesigning the garden.

The original crazy person's plan.

The original crazy person‘s plan.

There was a place for a patio and a space for a little pool for watercress. *sigh* It was something like 35′ x 89′. Granted, it’s only shrinking by a third, but that makes a big difference, seed-starting-wise.

The new, only slightly less crazy plan.

The new, only slightly less crazy plan.

Okay. What we have here is the garden itself, which will be 35′ x 60′. In the left top corner is the 10′ x 15′ foot compost area, and across from that will be the 10′ x 20′ hoop house.

Where we grow the dirt.

Where we grow the dirt.

I am really excited about the idea of making my own dirt. So, we’ll have a 9′-long bins site, with three 3′ x 3′ bins, constructed of cement blocks. Across from it will be the reserve piles of “Active” (the manure activator), “Brown” (leaves, paper, and such), “Green” (grass clippings, weeds, plants, etc.), and “Food” (being our table scraps). To the right of the bins is just a space to pile the compost that is ready to use, so we can free up bins to make more. We’ll just secure a tarp over it and it’ll be good.

The Hoopty House.

The Hoopty House.

Across from the compost area will be the entrance to the hoopty house. I want a raised bed on the ground on each side of the door to grow my cool weather crops, then three tables on which to work and set flats of seeds and such. At the back, I think I’m just going to set up the frames/shelves of these “mini greenhouses” we got (which I’ll return to in a moment), to set seedlings to grow and do their thing.

I am a dork and drew all the little plants in. It actually makes it more exciting than little dots where you'll put the plants.

I am a dork and drew all the little plants in. It actually makes it more exciting than little dots where you’ll put the plants.

So, here’s where we are, veggie-wise:

  • Bed 1: Amish Moon and Stars Watermelon and Toadskin Muskmelon
  • Bed 2: Henderson Lima Beans and Black Beauty Eggplant
  • Bed 3: Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes
  • Beds 4 & 8: Amish Paste Tomatoes
  • Bed 5: Cumin, Oregano, Rosemary, and Sage
  • Bed 6: Scarlet Nantes Carrots
  • Bed 7: Old Fashioned Cherry Tomatoes
  • Bed 9: Dill and Thyme
  • Bed 10: Catnip. Yes, that little rat of ours gets 4′ x 4′ of catnip.
  • Bed 11: Cilantro
  • Bed 12: Lettuce Leaf Basil
  • Bed 13 & half of 23: Waltham Butternut Squash
  • Bed 14: Connecticut Pumpkin
  • Bed 15: Anaheim Chilies and Chinese 5-Color Chilies
  • Bed 16: Banana Peppers
  • Bed 17: Black Beauty Zucchini
  • Bed 18: Crooked Neck Yellow Squash
  • Bed 19: Straight 8s Cucumbers
  • Bed 20: Boston Pickling Cucumbers
  • Bed 21: Country Gentleman Sweet Corn
  • Bed 22: Mammoth Sunflower
  • Half of Bed 23: Cherokee Trail of Tears Pole Beans
Giant cat head sniffing some seed packets.

Giant cat head sniffing some seed packets.

Man, that’s still a lot. All together, it’s about 100 plants, of which I will start seeds for double that. I’d rather be on the safe side, and anything I start that I can’t fit into the garden, I can give to our neighbors and such. It’s intimidating: so, I’m starting various seeds at different times, and then there are the ones I should pre-sprout and then direct sow those, and then there are the ones that can just go straight into the ground.

I’m nervous about our last frost date, which on different sites says anywhere from the middle of March to the middle of May. I’m using the May date, just to play it safe, and even then I’ll be watching the weather. I may totally screw up the plants that require a long growing season (like those melons) but I guess I’ll just have to learn from that. My overriding concern is how bizarre the weather’s been—I’m afraid I’ll never really know what to expect out there because it’s changing every year. I guess I can only do my best.

So, anywho…

Barn corner.

Barn corner. Top view of barrel system.

So, this is the south-facing corner of the barn. Its the corner that the gutter’s spout comes down from. The barn itself sits about 30 feet south east from the garden itself. Not too bad.

Actual barn, sans Murray.

Actual barn, sans Murray.

Barrel system, front view.

Barrel system, front view. Obviously, I didn’t use the top picture for reference as I drew this, but you get the idea.

This would be the front view of the proposed rain barrel system. That’s Murray the Barn Cat sitting up by the barn doors, where it is banked. I doubt gravity will provide enough water pressure to be able to water the plants furthest away from the system, but I can haul it for the plants I need to and just deal with it.

Now, the reason we’ve had to scale it back for this first year, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, is that we just don’t have enough space to start that many seeds. Next season, with the Hoopty House, we will have more than enough room and we might expand. But this year, we have these:

This is a stock picture of the sort of thing we got.

This is a stock picture of the sort of thing we got.

We have two of them. Now, my issue with these is that I don’t actually trust them not to blow over out in the yard. I’ll be on the national news if I start 200 seedlings and they all just…fell over. I also just don’t trust them completely to not suck and become all cold because they’re not made properly. So, my plan is this: I’m going to set them up in our sun room. I think enough sun comes through the windows in there to heat these guys up (I’ll arrange them closest to the south-facing window), and if not, I can throw a small heater in there to sort of help things out (just taking care to pay extra attention to the watering, so nothing dries out). I can deal with my sun room being taken up by two greenhouses for a couple of months.

And that’s where we are. I’ve got a plan, I’ve got a seed-transplant schedule for each veggie, I’ve got greenhouses to set up in the sun room. We’re so ready to get going!

Oh, if anyone reading this has done any of this before, and you’re looking at our plans and thinking of how we could change this or that, please comment. Remember: we’ve never done anything like any of this before, so we’re sort of winging it. All help is very, very welcome!

Moggy's just itchin' to get out there and start cultivating (eating) his catnip!

Moggy’s just itchin’ to get out there and start eating cultivating his catnip!

You thought I was gonna forget your metal, didn’t you…? I would never do that. Here’s some guys from Oklahoma: BTK with “Farmhouse Horror.” (She almost got away!)

3 thoughts on “The Garden: Take Two

  1. kate says:

    I think you’re smart to scale back a bit for the first year. Your current plan roughly the same size as my garden and its plenty big! One thing I would recommend is instead of having whole beds dedicated to herbs, mix them in with your vegetable beds. I tuck dill, cilantro, parsley and basil in among my vegetables. They help to reduce pest problems (I think all the different smells throw the bugs off) and attract beneficial insects. But don’t do this with the catnip, it will take over the whole bed by the second year! Best to give it its own bed.

    Oh, and those little greenhouse shelving units WILL blow over on a windy day. I’ve had it happen. If you do put them outside make sure you weigh down the bottom shelf with something heavy.

    Good luck!

    • Kriscinda says:

      Thanks, Kate! Yeah, I might do some shuffling with those herbs. And thanks for confirming that I’m not just worrying over nothing with the wind and those little greenhouses.

      Cheers! =)

  2. Linne says:

    I’ve done quite a bit of what you’re doing now, and once I have more time, will pass on any idle thoughts (I always have lots of those, as you no doubt have noticed!). I’ve always had bigger plans than I could actually manifest, too. I think it helps when you garden on your own property; you can add stuff every year and watch the whole thing develop; so I agree that you are probably wise to cut back a little this year. Thanks for posting the list of seeds. Are some of those heritage seeds? Do you have an interest in that sort of thing? Also, I was wondering if you are planning on adding any livestock . . . I hope to live in the country again someday and the other day was reading about Dexter cows (small, good for both milk and meat); I got all excited, then remembered that livestock tie you down somewhat. I had a goat, back in the day, but we had my sons’ dad and step-mum not too far away; we used to trade childcare and animal-sitting when one of the couples wanted to get away for a few days.

    I’m likely crazy, but I still plan as if I were 20 and starting out, with a family to feed and all. I love planning; but I’m somewhat realistic about what I can actually accomplish, too.

    Anyway, I’ll be back with thoughts on the garden as planned. I want to say that I love to share ideas and never have expectations that others will do any of them; if an idea suits you, great; otherwise, no problem.

    Later . . . ~ Linne

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