The Garden Plan for This Year.

The garden chairs that never get used.

Here’s the biggest secret to gardening.  There is no easy time.  No space in the season where there won’t be as much work.  In the spring you’re cleaning up and planting. Through the summer you’re weeding, cursing raccoons and devising death traps for pests.  In the fall you’re cleaning up and harvesting.

When I come home in darkness after having spent 8 or more hours planting, lugging, spreading and looking for somewhere secret to pee, friends or family will say to me – Well once you get it all planted you can relax a bit.

My friends and family aren’t necessarily gardeners. So they’re stupid.  They don’t know that obsessive compulsive gardening, whether it’s edibles or ornamentals, is a 6 month long marathon of non stop work punctuated with the occasional reward.  A tomato.  Or a rare bloom.  Or just a bloom.  Or even just a leaf that doesn’t get eaten by slugs.  We’ll take what successes we can get, we gardeners.

It all starts with a garden plan.  Or at least it should, I mean gardening is enough of a shit show, why make it even harder by not having a fundamental plan.

So every year I make up my garden plan because even a garden is never perfect in real life, on the garden plan it’s always looking lush and orderly.  Like I said, we take our successes where we can get them.

This year I’m going to be trying out a couple of new growing techniques which I’ll get into later in the season when the time comes to implement them.

For now, I just have my plan. I’ve planted a few cool weather crops like my kale and swiss chard but in the next day or so I’ll be able to load up on everything else.  If there’s a frost I’ll just cover what needs to be covered with row cover.

You’ll notice, because you’re good like that, that I have several empty spots in the garden. That’s because I always fill up my garden then I find something at the nursery or seed store that I JUST HAVE TO HAVE.  And then I’ve already done my garden plan and realize I don’t have any space for it.  So, this year I’ve left space in a few beds for new things.  One bed will also be used for replanting leeks which is one of the vegetables I’m trying a new growing technique with this year.

The garden is 40′ wide by 40′ deep and each bed is around 16′ long.  The smaller beds are 8′ x 4′ and are official raised beds with wood sides.  For those of you who are curious about varieties here’s a list of what I’m growing this year.

Potatoes – Kennebec, Russian Blue, Russet, Yukon Gold, Chiefton, and a few rarer varieties like Linzer, Pink Fir, Amarosa.

Flowers – Snapdragons, Dahlias, Cockscomb, Statice, Amaranth, Zinnia, Sunflowers, Gladioli, Dianthus, Sun Balls.  Sadly my big hairy balls didn’t germinate. :(

Sweet Potatoes – Beauregard

Beans – Emerite, Mascotte

Dried Beans – Wolf’s Tongue, Zuni Gold, Blooming Prairie, Stangenbohne Whitsenhausen, Stangenbohne Rassacher Kipfler. – Special thanks to Crystal from Whole-fed Homestead  for sharing these rare beans with me.

Beets – Kestral, Detroit Dark Red, Bulls Blood, Chiogga, Golden

Garlic – Music, Russian Red

Leeks – Lancelot

Onions – Copra, Florence (red)

Melons – Cantaloupe (Halona), Honeydew (Diplomat)

Pumpkins – Sugar pumpkin

Carrots – Ibiza, Bolero, Paris Market, Lunar White, Purple Sun

Squash – Sweet Mama, Delicata, Honey Nut, Hopi, Jarrahdale, Thai Rai Kaw Tok

Corn – Serendipity, Honey Select, *possibly* Glass Gem

Kale – Black Lacinato Kale (Black Magic)

Chard – Rainbow Swiss

Brussels Sprouts – (I know) Jade Cross

Strawberries – Charlotte

Broccoli – Green Goliath

*This season I’m mainly growing tomato varieties that are blight resistant

Disease Resistant Tomatoes – Plum Regal, Garden Gem, Garden Treasure, “W”, – The last 3 tomatoes aren’t available anywhere other than the research program from The University of Florida.

Regular Tomatoes –  Black Cherry, Green Zebra, Mortgage Lifter, Black Krim, Speckled Roman, Yellow Pear

There you have it. Not an exhaustive list, but the majority of what I’ll be planting and swearing at for the next 6 months or so. You’ll notice in the garden plans that my 2 chairs aren’t anywhere in them. I rarely use them so I was going to leave them out of the garden, but then I remembered that when people come up to visit me or get some vegetables or flowers they often find watching me work so depleting that they have to sit down.

So I’ll be putting the chairs back for them.  I’m a gardener. The only reason I’d need a chair is for throwing at a raccoon.

Have a good weekend.


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  1. Juli says:

    Love your plan! Love your Tipi trellis, we are doing the Same thing. I read your blogs aloud to my farmer dad. Is this a private space you rent? You were in a community garden before right?
    We are a small farm in PA, and we have stuck to our plan 89% so far…..but the onions have been moved, bean varieties are changing as we speak, and deer protection was left out of the plan for the new pasture beds! You rock, we are trying luffa this year because of you!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Juli! I’m still in the community garden. We all have our own plots ranging from 20′ x 20′ to 20′ x 40′. I currently have 2 side by side plots, giving me 40′ x 40′. And yet I still have NOWHERE convenient for my work table. :/ ~ karen!

  2. Mary Margaret says:

    Hi! New to the blog (discovered it by googling “Can I use a vintage phone for any modern purpose? And finding your most excellent post wherein you explain that, while the answer is yes, the process of coming to that yes is basically a mystery lost to the ancients, which I fully appreciated). Do you use a software or web app for your garden plan? I’ve been looking for something to help me get a design like the one you have here, and I am very interested. I don’t want to give up on my hastily sketched and often abandoned mid-season graph-paper plans, but I’d like to supplement them with something that might remain a little more legible.

  3. Heather says:

    I kept thinking about your post, and my sad attempt at gardening, and decided this year I am going to make more of an effort. I nipped up to Home Hardware and collected a selection of seeds, and spent the whole afternoon out there digging and preparing the ground. Did I ever have fun! It was such a gorgeous afternoon. I’d forgotten how much I love to get dirty and really enjoy a cold glass of water. Thanks for the inspiration, Karen. Hoping for some veggies I can serve with pride. :)

  4. Caro says:

    I’m really upset about your big hairy balls.

  5. Paula says:

    For tomatoes without blight, I have adopted the SIP bed setup using o pipe, sand, fill tube, drainage spout (YouTube) to grow my tomatoes in. The tomato bed has a 9’ frame around it and it is covered and I grow the tomatoes around string using the single stem method (indeterminate). The plants wick the water from the bottom of the bed and I only have to fill the bed with water every 4-5 days. The point of all of this is that my tomatoes never contract blight – not even during wet seasons like the last one. The sides are open, it simply has an arched ‘roof’ made out of 10’ pvc pipes covered in 6 ml plastic. I have used it for 3 summers so far. For feed, I use homemade compost.

  6. Caroline says:

    HOW do you manage a garden that size?! I plant vegs that can or dry on the vine and buy the tomatoes from the lovely organic Mennonites (!) who’s herb seedlings are the sturdiest and their scrumptious tomatoes. (I don’t have room to grow the amount of tomatoes I need. I can them).
    No mention of Kabocha squash. Anyone?
    First one was store-bought org. Oh,my! Vowed I’d never cook a pumpkin pie AGAIN. The flesh is finer, a lot sweeter (I used about 1/4 cup of Agave). As a veg, I steamed it and put it on the plate. Unlike potatoes or yams, it needed no butter OR salt. Then began the search for seeds. China had some thru Amazon. OMG! Ordered, planted and grew. What fruited sure wasn’t Kabocha and it sure didn’t taste good. What the hey?! The mysterious farmer who sold my grocer his ONE Kabocha has disappeared. Even the farm markets’ squash were not the same. Is it a plot by the Idaho potato people? The FDA,KGB, CIA?
    I’d love to know of anyone who has succeeded in finding seeds, and growing a lovely, SWEET and fine pulped Kabocha. What that first taste did has set me on a determined search.
    As my Aunt Emma used to say, “I’ll give you a nickel if you can find it.”

    • Karen says:

      Hi Caroline! There are tons of Kabocha squash varieties online. I personally grow Sweet Mama Kabocha along with a couple others. You can get them at Stokes Seeds, Baker Creed seeds, William Dam Seeds in Canada and a few other places. That should start you off. :) ~ karen!

  7. Amy Watson says:

    What happened to your big hairy balls??? (I’ve always wanted to ask somebody that )

  8. Lindy says:

    Ah the Pink Fir apple potato variety. Tricky. It seems to like heavy clay and good watering. Far more than I ever gave it on my free draining drought stricken potager. The flavour is amazing, but darn tricky to scrub clean. and if you try and roast them you get really really hard chewy end bits. Not what you are looking for in a spud. And I love the asparagus and flower bed combined – asparagus fronds are so perfect in the flower arranging. But where is the dahlia forest going? (I keep mine in the ground all frozen winter long, no need to lift with my technique and they survive and thrive. I grow them in builders buckets with holes drilled in the base. Pest free!) And I’m so with you on the chair issue. Who on earth has time for one of those?

  9. Heather says:

    Someone once told me, “If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.” With that in mind, I generally go out to my side yard in early May, turn over some earth, drop some seeds and push them into the ground with my heel. Then, I wait to see what happens. I won’t have the amazing haul you will but I get a surprising bounty most years, and the animals seem not to notice the veggies growing amidst the weeds. It’s a method I started when my four kids were small, and I didn’t have time to do anything properly. Your garden is a feast for the eyes, as well as the table. Good luck with it! Maybe I’ll learn something and do it properly one day.

  10. Anita says:

    Ahh, Karen but what about the chickens? I have four hens whose daycare playpen is my former veggie garden. Former. The plants that remain are the chicken resistant ones (fennel, tarragon, mint…sounds like the beginning of a chicken-based recipe?). My veggie gardening has gotten a lot easier!

  11. Julie says:

    Very impressive! My dad and I just wander around our dirt and point in various directions and go, “yup…tomatoes here. Maybe squash there?”

    I’m kind of excited for this year. We want to grow a giant pumpkin this year. Don’t know what the hell I’m going to do with it if it takes but whatev’! LOL!

  12. Jeez. Ambitious! I am in awe.

    My garden plan is as follows: Plant pole beans in containers on patio. Buy everything else at the farmers’ market. Have a beer and admire gardening handiwork.

  13. Donna Horne says:

    Chuckles about the chairs–I also never sit and my chairs stay in the shed unless someone is coming.

  14. Kathy Wright says:

    I was wondering about your front yard vegetable garden and may have missed that post….is it now grass?

  15. Debbie D says:

    Ah, no Cranshaw melon? My personal favorite when ripe. The scent and taste is to die for (again when ripe which most don’t let them get ripe). Maybe your season isn’t long enough, but I would encourage you to grow them and eat them (ripe of course). Great garden plan and from one gardener to another best of luck to you. May you be overflowing with veggies and flowers.

  16. Kielian DeWitt says:

    I enjoyed reviewing your extensive list of veggies and visualizing it all with your plan. I admire your organization!

    I’ve not yet put a set of chairs in my garden (good idea), but I did manage to erect a pumpkin vine trellis. It did pretty well the first year, even though I mistakenly planted several squash bushes instead of pumpkins! This year should be better!

  17. Alena says:

    My plan is done, too.
    I have purchased two dahlia bulbs (nobody around me had any that were acceptable to me – I don’t do red, yellow, peach, orange etc.) only one nursery had Blackberry Ripple dahlias (white with dark purple streaks). I was exhausted from the search so I got them.
    I did find some online but in general, I will not pay upwards of $15 for merchandise that cost $10.

    The first day the pots were out I noticed squirrelly squirrels got interested (at least I assume it was them). Somebody also ate half of the pansies (leaves and all) in the pot two feet away from the dahlias but I assume that the bunnies did that (I have a Momma Bunny and a Baby Bunny living under my garden shed and I don’t have the heart to evict them).

  18. Leslie says:

    Looks great Karen! I love the growveg planner. Just wondering what the lines are in each of your garden beds. Is that your watering system? Or some new technique for planting sections??

  19. kelle says:

    I do not know how I found you on the internet, but I look forward to every post and literally laugh out loud every single time I read them! I just love the way you think!

  20. Sideroad40 says:

    Wow! Amazingly ambitious list :) Wishing you heavy rain once a week, no hard frosts, and only friendly bugs in this ‘what will be’ a beautiful garden!

  21. Susan Claire says:

    Everything looks great, but how are you going to live without your big hairy balls?

  22. Vincessa says:

    I am brand new to your blog, and I’m so glad I found it. This gardening blog had me laughing very hard, and it’s wonderful to know that I am not the only crazy Gardner. Out of curiosity, what is your new technique with the leaks? I’m growing them for the first time this year.

  23. Phyllis Kraemer says:

    The plan looks beautiful…I got tired looking at it…you are amazing!!

  24. Jen says:

    I have been growing Jarrahdale as my go-to pumpkin for years and am sad that the last of my seeds (from 2014) don’t seem to be germinating. They are WONDERFUL for pie…nice and dry but not too, sweet, and meaty. And such a pretty dusky gray-blue….

  25. In the ‘melons and sugar pumpkins’ row – far right – is that a spider web? It seems large and I’m wondering how big the spider you’ve invited to live there is.

  26. Centi says:

    I’d love to hear you saying “Rassacher Kipfler” three times!

  27. Heather says:

    What? No cucumbers! Sad day for you, we plant and pickle loads of cucumbers… I’m sure given your last post on the garden it’s for disease issues.

    We struggle with blight here in Iowa on tomatoes too. I find that alfalfa hay for mulch under them helps significantly. It keeps the soil from splashing up on the leaves which in turn prevents the disease from manifesting. It has really helped me turn a corner with my tomato plants.

    • Karen says:

      I might try mulching under the tomatoes this year. I string train them and remove all the leaves below the lowest flowering/fruiting branches so there isn’t much down by the soil but … I will have cucumbers. :) One English cucumber and the rest will be pickling cucumbers. I’m just not sure where they’ll go yet, lol. ~ karen!

      • Nicole says:

        We’re trying the string training this year again. It worked pretty well last year but we were late getting them strung up and the tomatoes had grown everywhere. After that fiasco, my partner really understood when I said that we needed to build the tomato trellis BEFORE we planted the tomatoes. So . . . now we have a trellis that is 8.5′ tall and is sturdy enough to put a roof on and call a cottage. No half measures here! :)

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