Seeds, potting soil, and growing trays are showing up in Home Depot, Lowe’s, Tractor Supply, and your local hardware stores. It’s exciting to keep thinking green!
Continuing with our garden series, let’s talk about what we’ll be growing this year. Are you planning yet? Did you start your seeds yet? Are you starting or expanding this year? Read on to hear what we’re planning then let me know what you’re working on in the comments below!
Our New Garden
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This is year is going to be a transition year for us in terms of gardening. We’re breaking ground on a new area that will be more convenient to use (hopefully). That means we need to get the infrastructure set up AND do the planting. So, this year, I want to stick to some of my old reliable plants and allow for time to set up the garden.
So for the new garden area, I’ve already taken out the larger trees but we still need to:
- Clear out grassy shrubs
- Clear out the wood pile
- Set up fencing (maybe just strong deer fencing dug down about 1 inch around for this year)
- Build garden beds
- Put down pathway (maybe stone or just degradable cardboard and landscape fabric for this year)
- Set up three bin compost system
- Figure out water system (how to manage hose from house to garden then connect to soaker hoses)
- Maybe set up beautiful arbor
- PLANT AND ENJOY! 🙂
As you can see, I have to do some things smaller or simpler since there is so much to do. The stylistic or more permanent changes can come as time (and money) allow.
It’s okay to start small if you’re just starting! I have a long-ish list of plants and to-dos because I’ve been working and learning about gardens for over 10 years now. Don’t feel pressured to feed the whole neighborhood if this is your first garden. Pick a few items that you really like. The beauty of growing your food is that there is always something to learn and then you never know what type of weather will happen.
How to Chose What to Plant
Here’s how I chose the items for this year, given our new garden area and life-events:
What is relatively low time-intensive to plant and maintain?
Trust me, in the heat of August when the weeds invade and chipmunks are sneaking through the fence, you’ll be quite busy. Think about how much time you actually have. If you’re full-time homesteading, you may have some more time or may fully rely on your own production. If you’re hobby gardening around a full-time job, you don’t want to be measuring droppers of fertilizer for one plant, rearrange soaker hoses for desert-like plants then water-intensive plants, or flip-flop with acidic v. basic pHs.
What does our family like to eat? (And what can I snack on while I’m working in there?)
If you don’t eat brussel sprouts, don’t grow them! It’s not worth it! If you can’t get enough watermelon, grow three plants! Then, I always plant a few snack items too that inspire weeding and keep the toddler entertained in the garden. So extra points for french green beans, cherry tomatoes, and blueberries.
What are some perennials that would be nice to have for several years to come?
This require a little extra planning. Some perennials like rhubarb and asparagus take at least one year of growth before you can reliably harvest them. The same for grapevines. Even in the second year, you need to be judicious in your harvesting. So, if you are interested in these, get them in this year. Just make sure you’ve planned enough room for them since they tend to be wide bushes. After they’re established, build in the annual maintenance to your tasks like starting a new strawberry row or cutting back the grapevines.
And what will I be able to preserve at the end of the season?
Like I mentioned earlier, some of this depends on the degree to which you rely on the production of your planting. If you need the garden to survive, then make sure you are growing things that you can preserve and keep through the winter. Do some research on which species keep well longer. Or some will be better for pickling than others. This year, I’m making sure to grow both salad cucumbers and pickling cucumbers so we can can the latter. (side note: Make sure you thinking about your root cellar before the winter because you may need different moisture and temperatures.)
What we’re growing:
Margherita or SuperSauce tomatoes (good for canning sauce)
Brandywine and Steak Sandwich (slicing tomatoes)
Cucumbers (slicing and pickling)
French Green Beans
Asparagus (long-term perennial)
Corn (companion with beans)
Marigolds (with watermelons)
Nasturtiums (with cucumbers)
Dahlias (my favorite flower)
Semi-dwarf apple trees (if we can get some other land cleared for these)
Lemon Balm (around house)
Rosemary (in pot in garden to bring it in and overwinter, they don’t like our freezing cold.)
Mint (in contained area!)
Basil (next to house)
Chives (in garden)
Thyme (perennial already in separate garden area)
Lavender (around the house)
So tell me, what are you growing this year? What are your favorites?