“Most people of my grandparents' generation had an intuitive sense of agricultural basics ... This knowledge has vanished from our culture. We also have largely convinced ourselves it wasn't too important. Consider how many Americans might respond to a proposal that agriculture was to become a mandatory subject in all schools ... A fair number of parents would get hot under the collar to see their kids' attention being pulled away from the essentials of grammar, the all-important trigonometry, to make room for down-on-the-farm stuff. The baby boom psyche embraces a powerful presumption that education is a key to moving away from manual labor and dirt--two undeniable ingredients of farming. It's good enough for us that somebody, somewhere, knows food production well enough to serve the rest of us with all we need to eat, each day of our lives.” ― Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
So here they are…..the 2012 garden plans for Throwback Road. I feel like I have just given birth to my third child and I can’t wait to cultivate and see how he/she is going to turn out. The novice gardener believes, as I did for quite sometime, that if you throw some plants in the ground, water, and weed that you will have your dream garden. To a degree that is true, but for those who truly understand gardening, you know the time and effort that goes into planning one out. What plant goes best with Kale….which plants are heavy feeders, where should my tomatoes be in order to receive the most sun, how and which plants should I grow vertically. The questions and decisions are endless. This process has been time consuming, but also one of the most interesting and educational processes I have ever taken on.
So when did I get the gardening bug? I , like a lot of people, read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by: Barbara Kingsolver. I remember reading and rereading this back in 2008 and dreaming of a time when my family could gather round the kitchen and can homegrown tomatoes. Going through this planning process I have come to realize that even though that book was a great inspiration for me, it really started when I was a child.
I still remember summer vacations spent at my grandparents house in upstate New York. My grandmother was an avid gardener, and my grandfather had a potato patch that would make an Idaho potato cry. I remember endless hours helping them weed and collect food for dinner. As a teenager, my grandfather had passed and my grandmother came to live with my family in Ohio. She had dementia and my mother had made it a point to build a raised garden for her in our backyard. I remember staring at that garden wondering…”What is the point?” She hardly knows where she is…why would she want to garden. With youth comes ignorance, and as I have grown I now understand. No matter how old, or how with it you are, when gardening is in your soul you need to feel the dirt. You need the soil between your fingers and to touch the leaves on the plants. The ache in your back is ok because you know that the fruits of your labor will be delicious. I thank my grandparents for showing me the beauty of growing your own food. I thank my mother for always keeping my grandparents memory alive through her beautiful flowers gardens…seriously, you should see them. Finally, I thank Mr. G for allowing me to turn our suburban home into the homestead of my dreams. Wish me luck!
Planning out the vegetable garden took the most time. We will end up having approximately 286 square feet of food production space (including the popcorn patch). I use the raised bed method because the soil in my backyard is either full of sand or clay. This gives me the ability to create the perfect soil mix depending on what is going into the bed that year. I will also grow my vining vegetables vertically. This will maximize my space as well as my overall yield. We will be installing a drip system to ensure that the garden thrives in Colorado’s hot dry summers.
Behind the vegetable garden will be a small 4x4 bed for ground cherries. I hope this bed does well because I have big plans for making preserves from The Little House on the Prairie Cookbook.
The back of my property will be an in ground bed full of medical/edible perennials and herbs. We already have a small pine, crabapple tree, plum tree, and a few Russian Sages established. These are all two years old and doing well in their home. Against the fence line I will be planting a row of Mexican Sunflowers (those are the red dots). These are some of my favorite flowers and they will help to block out the neighbors yard.
I am trying my luck at a small strawberry popcorn patch this year. I have never grown corn, but I am excited at the prospect. I am going to plant some sugar pie pumpkins at the base and hope for a fall filled with homemade pumpkin pies and tasty popcorn.
I still need to build all of my tomato cages, bean teepee, and cucumber/peas trellises. Thank goodness my last frost date is not until May 30th because I have a lot to do!
The medicinal perennial bed is another big passion of mine. I hope to have enough dried plants to make some of my own natural remedies. Here is a list of some of the plants going in this year:
I have not accomplished this garden plan on my own. The books that have helped me the most during this process are:
The Kitchen Gardener's Handbook
Western Garden Book of Edibles
The Heirloom Life Gardener
The Urban Farm Handbook
My seeds came from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. You can read more about what varieties I am planting this year on my past post Seed Organizing and Garden Dreams. I have had wonderful results with Baker Creek seeds in past years and I love what this company stands for.
Please comment on my garden plan if you have any questions or think I am about to make a HUGE mistake! I am by no means a master gardener and am always looking to increase my garden knowledge. I realize that everything will not work and that is the beauty about gardening. You learn from your mistakes, contemplate a new direction during the cold season, and then retry next year. It is a continuous learning process and one that I look forward to in the many years to come.
Have you planned out your garden for 2012?
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