Planning a Garden (The Idiotic Way)

Remember Root Vegetable Requiem?  We walked to the old cemetery again and I photographed the nuttiness of our town:

Those are the vegetables.

These are the graves.

There are the vegetables near the graves.

And here is a confused toddler.  At least Mommy could never be so crazy. 

Or could she…?

Last Thursday I promised a Monday post about garden planning.  My way.  The way that makes you pull your hair out.  This is it.  

I decided on the fly to move our garden across the yard.  There were some very good reasons for this choice, and it ended up being the right decision.  But have you ever made a big move that you instantly regretted, doubting yourself at every turn, until someone came along and said, “You did just fine!  It’s okay!”…?

(Thank you, Mom, for those words.  You really are The MG – Master Gardener.)

The real trouble was shade.  Much more of it than I’d planned on.  When I took the time to check out the sun’s progression methodically, not randomly (after half of the new garden was dug through our lawn by the sweat of my father’s and husband’s brows), I realized that a good half of the new area was in the shade for hours in the middle of the day.

How Not To Plan Your Garden

Step 1: Glance at the sun at random times.  Make general assumptions about where the best light is in your yard.

Step 2: Dig.

Step 3: Say “OH NO!” over and over the next day as you discover what the sun really does in your yard.

Step 4: Text your mother, The MG, many times, trying to figure out if the plan is salvageable. 

Step 5: Pull out a few clumps of hair, choke back a sob, take a walk, and admire rotting vegetables in a cemetery. 

The End.

Actually, there is a happy ending to this story which has nothing to do with graves or rotten vegetables (hopefully.  Although you could make a strong argument for compost in that direction). 

I sat down with my giant drawing pad, a pencil, gum eraser, and ruler, and sketched out four options. 

Ridiculous, I know.  But I’m a visual person, and things don’t make sense to me until I write them down.  Anyone else like that?

This quadrant ended up being the closest to our solution (brought to light by none other than The MG).  Expand the garden into the sunshine in 3 directions, and fence it all in.  No big deal.  Let it be big.  Side note: The shade problem is not as bad as this diagram indicates.  Not even close.

When I realized that I was the only one embarrassed by that option, I gave in.  I also spent time over the next 2 days using my infinitesimally small powers of logic and observation to record what the sun really does during early May in our backyard.

(Random picture of a clematis bloom, used to break up long sections of text.  You’re welcome.)

Turns out we’ll be just fine.  In fact, the new garden will get much more sun than the old one, and will have the advantage of NOT being directly under an acorn-tossing oak tree. 

So I have my husband and my parents to thank for the following pictures, and all those that will follow this summer as I record the successes and failures of my newly found green thumb.

What. a. guy.  Using my parents’ Mantis to “break up our unplowed ground.”

Pieces of bamboo mark where possible beds could be soon.

The outline is visible, marked with string.  Half-tilled!

A pile of poo.  Er… compost that we’ll spread over the soil.  I do understand the difference.  I just find it funny. 

Best of all, a completed garden plan, researched, thought through, checked by The MG, and ready to be put into effect as soon as the new garden is ready.  The real progression of shade is noted on the right.

And of course, there will be no pests, or pestilence, or drought, or any such thing to cause more hair-pulling.

Of course.

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4 thoughts on “Planning a Garden (The Idiotic Way)

  1. Have you tried out Mother Earth News’ online vegetable garden planner? It looks exactly like what you just did by hand, which I am very impressed with, by the way. The other question I have is, and this is not meant to be discouraging in ANY way: how on earth are you going to care for a garden that big with a big belly and a new baby and a toddler? Mine is about half that size and I am already pulling my hair out just *thinking* about it. So I want to know your secret. I’d love to have a big booming garden with zucchini coming out my ears while I blithley blache and chop and freeze, but I’m not sure I can do it with everything else on my plate.

    • Great idea! I’ll be sure to look up Mother Earth News. Thanks Kirstie 🙂

      I don’t have a secret (except that after I finished the garden map, I sort of swallowed with a gulp and thought exactly what you wrote – am I NUTS?!) Honestly, I realize I may not be able to plant everything I drew on there. Or even create that number of beds this year. That’s okay. The most important thing is to get the ground tilled and a fence up. After that, it’s a matter of raking into existence one raised bed at a time, planting what I can with the time I have. If a section of the garden stays bare this year, okay. Next year when I don’t have a newborn mid-season, more may get done. If I get behind on my weeding, okay. I’ll do my best. Maybe I can bribe female family members to help every so often in exchange for super-cute-baby time…

      I just like having a goal that maybe/possibly/in a perfect world I could reach. It’s something to reach for anyway…

      Funny thing is, here I am 7 months preggo bending over a dirt patch, and it’s the most comfortable I feel all day! Kneeling takes all the pressure off so to speak.

  2. I used to subscribe to Mother Earth News magazine years ago – I love it. Now I’ll go online or check out old ones from the library. It’s a wonderful resource! You might want to include potatoes in the scheme of things, Heidi. Pretty easy to grow, a little hilling to be done along the way (which I can do for you if you’d like) and a lot of produce for a little effort. Can’t wait to see this garden as it progresses!

    • Thanks Mom 🙂 And thank you for all of your help!!! What’s the best way to start potatoes at this point – ordering or sprouting? I would love to grow potatoes, but wasn’t sure if I had enough room, or enough room in the sun…

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