Monday, December 13, 2010

Contemplating a Vegetable Garden

Some people dream of sugarplums but me, I dream about my garden.  All the time.  Day and night I'm thinking about it.  If I can't be outside, I'm planning on what I will do when I'm able to get outside.

Which has lead to this

Before the snow fell and it got too cold I took some measurements and made up a drawing of my vegetable garden as it is now.  Since then I've been sitting in front of the tv at night and drawing in new beds, erasing them, and drawing some more.  I've been asking myself questions like, do I want more space to walk between beds or is it more important to cram in as many beds as possible?  Another question that has popped up is what do I want to plant in these beds?  It helps to know how much I want to plant and then I'll have an idea of how many beds I need.

So I did an inventory.  This is what I pulled out of my fridge.

What?  You mean to say you don't have a fridge drawer dedicated just to seeds!
I pulled out every packet of seeds I own to see just how much space would be required.  And also to determine what else I would like to purchase for the spring.

I discovered I have a lot more seeds than I realized!  Among the extras I had forgotten about were black currant (Ribes nigrum), red flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) and beauty berry (Callicarpa bodinieri).  I think I'm going to try growing these and if they germinate they'll likely stay in pots for a year so I don't need to worry too much about where they will eventually be placed.

I also discovered a boon of perennial flower seeds.  I would rather put annuals in my vegetable garden so I will need to find a place to put these.  I'm considering renting a sod remover and rototiller next spring and creating several flower beds in one push.  It's possible those beds could be seeded with these packets.

The perennial seeds include:

Aster divaricatus
Hollyhock (actually a self seeding biennial)
Hidcote Blue Lavender

Shasta daisy; and
Mountain Meadows Wildflowers (this mix includes annuals and perennials such as blue flax, gaillardia, corn poppy and plains coreopsis)

Finally the annual flower seeds!  There's a good mix here including:

Cactus zinnias; and

And I can't forget my dahlia tubers as well.  Looks like I'll need at least one full bed just for flowers!

Vegetable seeds are aplenty as well.  Looks like I don't need to order as much as I had thought.  Good thing I decided to do this inventory as I found the following:

Plato Romaine Lettuce
Rossa di Milano onions
Chantenay Red Cored carrots
First Crop Beets
Zesta mesclun mix
Rebel Radishes
Tortoiseshell spinach
Simpson Elite lettuce
Progress No. 9 peas

All of these seeds, with the exception of the peas, were planted in my 5 beds this past summer but I did find that it was too crowded.  Some of the cilantro and onions didn't have enough space and light and the lettuce did not grow as well as it should have.  So realistically I should create another bed or two and space my plants out more to properly accommodate all these seeds.  Add to that the half bed of garlic I planted this fall, the 25 strawberry plants I intend to order as well as peas and flowers and I think the answer to my question is I need A LOT more beds in my garden.

The key I think will be to use the space efficiently.  I need as many beds as possible but also room for wide rows.  I placed a couple of the boxes too close this year and I'm not happy with the result which is a slight nuisance.  I also need to be careful about ordering too many seeds.  I'm glad I took an inventory because I really didn't realize how many flowers I had and I thought I was short of lettuce seed which isn't the case at all.  It's tempting to go through the catalogues and order up all sorts of new vegetables and flowers but I'm trying to increase the size of this garden just a bit at a time so I won't be overwhelmed by all the work to do.  I'm looking forward to getting on my bike and visiting the beach next summer, as well as eating fresh vegetables, so I need to ensure I've got time for both.


  1. Hi;
    We all need more beds in our gardens :) Geez, when I get another big idea the first thought is how to squeeze it in. That's half the fun of being a gardener... Hope you're having a fun holiday week.

  2. Yup, you need more beds :) I will admit to having a container in the fridge for seeds. Its unavoidable really.

  3. Your storage space in the fridge is brilliant! Never thought of that. I think you're right to expand slowly - it can get pretty overwhelming if you take on too much. Oh, and be sure to plant daisies. Lots of daisies. :)

  4. I think about my garden all the time too. I have so many different kind of plants in one bed that the plants suffer ...and I am creating more beds as well as enlarging the existing ones. Haha! Its' nice to know I am not the only one.

  5. It is so hard to balance how much we want to grow and how much we can manage by ourselves. Creating new garden space is daunting, and getting the garden started and designed is hard work --- it all overwhelms, but a year or so afer the gardens are up and running you will be able to manage more than you think right now!

  6. I too think of my garden day and night and plan, plan, plan, I am finding plans need constant reviewing as I gain more of the garden from the grass and things grow or die, I need to make a list of what I have and think maybe I should make a space in my fridge for seeds too,
    re the salt winds of the previous post your photos show a fair number of trees which will give some protection, also PEI is tucked away behind Nova Scotia so doesn't get the full force of the atlantic winds, Frances

  7. My oldest sister got the gardening gene in my family (from our dad). She plans and plans, looks through the seed catalogues every winter and LIVES for the day she can get outside (with the black flies) of course. Me - I'm not too methodical but I have a new start when I get to PEI so I have been thinking a lot about what to grow but my thoughts are very disorganized at this point.

  8. Kate - You're right, I could probably rip up the entire lawn and still need more space! Thank goodness I still have lots of room to expand yet.

    Laura - Lots more beds. I'm thinking a tiller will really make a difference next year. That and a truck load of manure. I better start saving my pennies now.

    Liz - LOL, I'm actually worried about daisies taking over! I've planted some of my wildflower mix in the past and the daisies outgrew everything else.

    One - Your situation sounds exactly like what I did this past summer. Cramming too many plants in a tight spot. I really need to space things out better this year.

    Laurrie - I'm hoping you're right! It's what I keep telling myself - once the beds are installed I won't be as pressed each spring with heaps of digging to do. I worked like a demon all last May and June. I'm thinking a tiller rental could go a long ways to getting more done with less injury to my back.

    Island Threads - You're right that PEI is tucked behind Nova Scotia. We certainly benefit from that when a hurricane hits! But it's amazing how much wind PEI still gets, I've never lived before in such a windy place. I blame all the farming and clearing of trees (and the fact that PEI is basically just a flat ole sandbar in the middle of the ocean). The first thing we did in the spring after buying this property was plant trees. There's empty fields in front and behind our house and when the wind blows the whole house shakes.

    Jane - some people are so good at planning and some of us are not. I might have a drawing of my garden but my past history shows that I often don't follow my plans! Once you settle into your home you'll start to get a better sense of the space and what sort of things you'd like to have. It'll come together quick enough.

  9. Marguerite I'm impressed. I draw a quick sketch every year before planting my vegetable garden, mainly to make sure I'm practising a 3 year rotation schedule. I don't want to mess with my pest discouraging methods. :)

  10. Very smart to be building some leisure time into your veggie garden planning. I think you will find you enjoy it more over the long term that way. Enjoy the winter dreaming right now! :)

  11. Wow, you are quite the gardener. You will be needing more beds with all those seeds. I am so impressed by your seed drawer. It looks so organized and you took inventory too. Your planning puts me to shame. I have no where the dedication that you have. And I should too given my profession. I should employ YOU. I do not think about it all the time like you.I need someone that does.

  12. ah .. the joys of being a gardener are neverending .. aren't we fortunate to have such an ever growing vocation! .. enjoy ..

  13. Oh no, I do not have a drawer dedicated to my seeds. You know I am a very lackadaisical gardener. The siren song of the vegetable garden does call to me, but I have had several years of deer poachers and I don't know if I have the heart to try it again.

  14. I LOVE your refrigerator drawers, which are filled with future dreams.

    It gives me a great feel for the kind of person you are and the picture is lovely.

    Thank you for visiting my blog and let's keep in touch.

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  15. Melanie - I attempted to sketch out the same thing this last year but failed miserably. I learned I need to plant first and then write down where I planted everything. I kept changing the positions and the sketch was just a bunch of crossed out scribbles in the end.

    Ms.S - the trick is to follow the plan! I tend to make great plans and then completely deviate from them. We'll see how I make out this year.

    GardenWalk - Hard to hide my quirks here! I've been found out. I'm an organizing diva. If only I could follow through will all my plans but I lack the energy too often to carry through with everything.

    JT - for those of us who are obsessed there's always something to do isn't there! Possibly why I love it so much, there's always something to do and learn.

    Lifeshighway - I hear you, deer can be truly disheartening. There's just no stopping them. I've spent too many mornings counting my losses after a late night rampage.

    Sharon - that's a great expression, a drawer full of future dreams. A garden really is part dream isn't it. From tiny seeds we have very bright visions. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  16. Marguerite,
    You are really planning ahead.
    I'm still in the Christmas mode right now and won't be in the gardening mode till Feb.
    Then I will go through my garden plot journal as to which orientation the veggies will be planted this year. I don't want the onions in the same spot as last year so it will be crop rotation time again.
    This is a lot of planning when you have a big garden and I'm not going to plant as many tomato plants. I gave most of them away because I didn't have the time to freeze them.
    Lucky co-workers and friends but I think I'll try and use the garden space better this year.
    Your drawing looks great and a rototiller will differently be in order as for a sod I've never used one. But would love to hear the results when you rent one.

  17. I know how you feel! I also have a couple of sketches on a notebook of how I would like a garden. But for now my little balcony should do.

  18. The Witch - you're right, I'm really ahead. I had anticipated ordering seeds in January or February but for some reason I couldn't wait. Of course, I haven't put up a single xmas decoration at this point. priorities ;-)

    Fer - For years before we bought this place I combed magazines and took classes, imagining the day we would have a large garden. I guess you could say I was well prepared.