Tuesday, February 27, 2018

2018 Garden Plan

It's that time again!  As I get ready to start all my tomato, eggplant, and pepper seedlings next weekend, I have to diagram everything out to make sure it will all fit!  Since I garden more or less by the Square Foot method, I made these garden templates when we built the raised beds.  I copy them into a new file every year and mix it up, trying to keep crop rotation in mind. 

The short bed (4x4) has been the eggplant and pepper bed for two years, so it's time to mix it up.  I'm going to put my block of corn there.   I have seeds for Hopi Purple and Jimmy Red, and am waffling on which to plant.  I am leaning toward the Hopi Purple, because I found a mill in the south where I can buy Jimmy Red corn flour and grits.  I don't know of any place to buy Hopi Purple corn meal, so making it appeals to me.  I wasn't thrilled with the corn flour I ground from the Painted Mountain flour corn I grew last year, but maybe I had dried it for too long.  It didn't have a strong "corn" flavor to me.   

I'm also going to try again with okra this year.  I have never had good luck with it.  One year we had a bed of it in the Master Gardener area at Charles Street Gardens and it was doing great-- and then suddenly we had a MASSIVE aphid infestation that caused us to lose 99% of the crop and ultimately have to pull the plants.   I console myself knowing that even if the okra doesn't do well, I can add flowers to fill the space.  And that's the bed you can see down the driveway, so flowers will be great there.  The okra itself is very showy, it's a red heirloom variety with creamy white flowers, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

This past fall, we cut the fig tree back substantially, so the far left hand of the long bed (4x16) should get more sun.  The far back edge is still a good location for greens that like partial shade, so I plan to have chards and mustard and pak choi there.  The squashes will be able to vine into the 2 - 3 foot wide path between the long bed and the back fence-- I will do some vine arranging to get them to go there rather than bothering the peppers and eggplants in the front.

I'm rotating tomatoes out of the long bed this year and into the medium bed, which grew corn and squashes and a few beans last year.  You'll see a lot of the Capitano yellow roma type beans in my garden plan-- we LOVED them last year, buttery and tender even when the beans are large.   We could eat them for a meal by themselves!

The tomatoes get pretty crowded in the middle bed.  I try to keep them trimmed down but they always get out of control by the end of the year.   I am not starting an Early Girl seedling because they are so prevalent in the garden stores, and may omit it and only grow 3 tomatoes to give everything more room.  I am waffling here because I love the Early Girl true tomato flavor.   I may scatter some cosmos seeds among the sunflowers, since those can work around the summer squash.

Last and pretty much least is my problem child bed, the narrow corner bed.  I thought it would be perfect for vining crops to train along the fence.  In practice, it gets neglected later in the summer and kind of just gets by.  I'm going to put easy care crops there this year-- peas along the corner in the spring, and a spaghetti squash that can ramble all over the bed and the fence in the summer.  I'll try some carrots and lettuces too, as an experiment.

I hope it will be a good gardening year!  We'll see how many of my grand plans actually are put into action.  :-)


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