Thursday, January 31, 2013

Garden Plan 2013 - Initial Planning

This year is going to be different.  I don't mean that in a grand, I'm-actually-going-to-weed sort of way.  Truth is, we'ved decided to downsize.  Considerably.

First of all, between the deer, the rabbits and the gophers, it has been a little more difficult each year.  Last year was kind of a joke - we had to put netting over everything to keep the deer off, and then to get at it, we had to take the netting off, or crawl underneath, or something else not fun.  Add to that, we are in the midst of a drought.  Everything needs watering just to not die.  We mulch, we use drip watering, all that, but it has just been so dry.  I have a sense that our garden plot needs a rest.  We add things every year - composted chicken and horse manure, alpaca manure, rabbit manure, compost, mulch....but I think it's just needs a rest. 

One thing that worked well for us is our hillbilly greenhouse, so we will still utilize that.  It prevents the deer and rabbits from trashing the garden, and that's the most disheartening part anyway.  I am not sure if we will move it or leave it where it is.  I do know that we will not put our tomatoes there this year - there were tomatoes there last year and the year before.  Time for a change.  The greenhouse is approximately 8x12.

The other space we plan to use this year is approximately 16x10.  This is where the big changes come in, because currently, this garden space is our chicken run.  I have another place to keep the chickens, but it is smaller.  That means we'll be decreasing our hen flock this year too.  Right now we have about 20 standard size chickens - we'll be reducing to about a half dozen. 

We've talked about this some - I've even prayed about it - and it seems to be the right thing to do.  Truth be told, we don't use a lot of eggs, so we've been selling the extras, using the money to buy feed, and just breaking even on the whole thing.  With just a few hens, we will still have plenty of eggs for us and a few to share.  Our plan is that the hens will spend the garden season in the other space that we have for them.  Once we are done with the garden, we will move some chickens (likely our Silkies - more on them soon!) to the henhouse and garden/chicken run.  They can enjoy all the end-of-garden treats, plus they can do the tilling for us. 

Our standard garden is about 1600 square feet, so this is a tremendous reduction in gardening space.  We are going to grow our tried and true vegetables, nothing fancy or trendy or experimental.  Our main focus is the stuff that everyone likes/eats...and that doesn't take up a ton of space.  We plan to grow:

roma tomatoes for fresh eating, salsa and hopefully some canned tomatoes
blue lake green beans for fresh eating and canning....or would pole beans do well/use less space?
carrots grow so well here, we can raise enough for half the year in a fairly small space
green onions just a few, probably in the herb garden
lettuces (black seeded simpson, romaine, butter lettuce) for fresh eating
spinach for fresh eating/green smoothies
zucchini  one hill, which is usually 3 plants
sugar snap peas for fresh eating
kale just one little grouping for me, for green smoothies
chard (see 'kale')
radishes only for me, so only a few

There are lots of other things we really like, but they either don't grow well here, or they take up too much space, or both.  Or...we can get them so cheap at the store it works out OK.  These are the tried and true things that just seem to like it here without needing a 30x40 plot.  So this is our wee garden plan. :)

There is still some discussion about putting in sweet corn in part of the big garden, but personally, I'm not for it.  We're also talking about putting in some sugar pumpkins somewhere to just let them go....I think that would work fine for us, because they seem to really like it here and I'm thinking that if we put them just outside one of our sheltered gardens, they will be easy to keep watered and we could also net them, since we are not in and out of a pumpkin patch the way we would be for something like green beans. 

As much fun as it is to grow potatoes, they simply take up too much space, and potatoes are not that expensive to we'll skip them.  Peppers don't grow so well for me, and we have a store in town that sells them 3/$1 really often.

We still have our perennial bed (asparagus, rhubarb, sunchokes, most of the herbs) and the orchard, so we will still have plenty to care for.

I'd love your help with this 'tiny garden'.  It's been a long time since we've had a garden this small.  Is there anything you'd suggest or recommend that we grow?  What am I missing?  Leave a comment and let me know!


~ Janis said...

Downsizing your flock is a good idea. 6 hens is plenty. Trade hens for things you need.
Also, ducks do a better job of bug control and do not damage the garden as much, since they do not scratch everything up.

Pole beans -- 1 pole with-8-10 seeds planted around it
Eggplant- has many uses
Brussell sprouts- they grow thru december
Peas-plant them on the INSIDE of the chicken pen so they can climb the fence
Cucumbers--fence climbers as well.
Plant some radishes near your lettuce and kale

I am also downsizing and not planting a million things in my garden either. Just basic good eating stuff. Increasing the squash and carrots.

Drop by when you have a chance and meet the Vermont flock at;

Erin said...

I LOVE Romas
Pole beans are great use of space. I particularly like the Kwintus (hard to get seed, though) and Violet pod (I have seed and you are welcome to as much as you need)
I always keep a rotating stock of salad greens going. Buttercrunch lettuce and Tyee spinach are my favorites. If you plant in a trench and lightly mulch them they stay sweet and strong even through the heat, and it protects them from the wind.

Laura said...

I appreciate the ideas! I am seriously considering the pole beans, and Erin, I might take you up on those violet pod beans, simply because they'd be so easy to find/pick! :) I do the same thing with greens and lettuces - just keep planting a few, and they stay just fine through our summers here. I hope to get all the seeds out this week and finalize some plans. :)


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