I have been SO excited to get started on planning our 2021 garden this year! I am filled to the brim with ideas and have already begun the journey in accomplishing some of them. Would you care to hear about some?
FALL 2020 LESSONS
If you have been with me for awhile, you will probably remember that I attempted my first fall garden at the end of last year. I was so excited to lay out all my plans, and even learn that fall gardens tend to fare better in my area than spring ones. I was successful in growing loads of greens, including mustard, kale, broccoli, and fava beans! Even a small head of buttercrunch lettuce has poked itself out in the center of our front garden.
However, with the success, I also saw loads of failure that oftentimes frustrated me. Our home is situated right in front of some wooded area. It is a beautiful lot of land, one that Arlen and I happily enjoy throughout the spring and summer months, listening to the birds singing in the mornings. We even got married in the woods just last year! But with wooded areas comes the dreaded squirrel.
Yeah, sure they can be cute, hopping around with their little flickering tails. When it comes to gardening, though, they are a real nuisance. I was so thrilled when I first planted out my garden. I had carefully place each seed exactly where I wanted it, watering it thoroughly, and awaiting the first sprouts.
Many of my seeds sprouted really quickly due to the temperate weather. I was thrilled! I could already imagine the first fall carrots coming to fruition and making their way into some warm pot pies for the winter.
And then the squirrels came. Ugh! How could I have forgotten about them?
Every day I would check on the garden and see nothing but holes in every garden bed. All those beautiful sprouts were also gone, with deep little holes all around them.
I lived, and I learned. So this year, armed with new knowledge, I am tackling the garden a bit differently.
FRONT GARDEN PLANS
This year, we are adding some order to our front garden. As much as I love the wildness of the various plants intermingling, especially at the height of summer, it causes a lot of stress at the same time.
Because of all the wild life in our area, plants tend to get moved around a bit too easily. There are literally places in the front garden where I planted one thing, but something entirely different has grown that I planted on the opposite side of the garden. It is never fun trying to decipher whether a plant is edible or not!
So, we have begun building garden beds and moving around the front garden. We are straightening out the curve to our main garden to add a bit more space for the rectangular beds to sit (and grow even more plants!) and have toyed around with various configurations for how everything should be laid out for a decent harvest + ease of maintenance.
Here are a few of our ideas! We will be working in a modular design where each square is a 3' x 3' (0,9 metre x 0,9 metre) bed that can be added to should we decide we need more growing space.
It was quite a lot of fun playing around with how we might plan our garden, and we think it will provide an attractive landscape for our neighbors as well.
NEW SIDE GARDEN
Ever since we have moved in to our house, I have always wanted a particular set of trees to be cut down. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE trees and take cutting them down very seriously. But this particular set of trees does more harm than good.
For one, they are rather large and very close to both our house and our neighbors house. With all the windstorms that have become more frequent in our area, I am always worried that one might topple over and cause some serious damage. Technically, they are not on our property line, but the neighbors did not plant them (the original owners of our house planted them), nor do they want them, so it's a win-win for clearing them out.
Secondly, these evergreen trees are situated on a south facing wall - ugh! For those who might be new to gardening, a south facing wall is like... prime real estate for a small garden. It gets wonderful sun throughout the seasons and the wall itself will store excess heat over the cooler months which can help extend your season at either end.
Currently, we have strawberries planted along the south facing wall of our house, and they have done really well, despite the fact that they are growing in somewhat poor conditions. With the evergreen trees gone, I expect we will have more strawberries than we will know what to do with!
Finally, with those trees gone, we will have quite a bit of space to build a few new garden beds. I don't think that will happen in this first year, but that won't stop me from growing a small field of sunflowers, corn, squash, and beans (the latter three commonly referred to as the Three Sisters). We also have high hopes of establishing some espalier trees in this area to hopefully harvest in a few years time.
Just some ideas I was playing around with for the side yard. We are looking for ways to repurpose our wedding arch into our garden and a wisteria plant seems to be a fun idea! The white circle is of the trees we are looking to take down.
Not much is planned for the back garden. It gets the least sun, so we will be focusing on planting items that don't need loads of sun or prefer afternoon shade. I had planned on having cover crops in all the beds, but with the amount we need to plant in order for us to try to grow the majority of our food needs this year (an ambitious task, I know!), every bit of garden space is being utilized!
The main thing I hope to focus on in the back yard is the compost and developing at least one useable bin by the time fall comes around, as well as improving the backyard soil. We have experienced a lot of flooding in our backyard due to it's slope and the heavy clay that makes up the land. It is my intention to plant some sort of fast growing, summer cover crop to help improve the vitality of the soil and slowly start building it up!
We have already managed to build up certain areas of our backyard that used to flood a LOT (i.e. the space underneath the large evergreen in the back left corner), so I know it is possible. Patience is just required.
There you have it! A little taste of what we have in store for the 2021 growing season! I promise to check back in with more detailed posts on what our final garden layout design is (we already have a front runner!), our planting schedule, and just anything that I think might be of interest to my fellow gardeners out there! If you wish to see something specific in this section, please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below :)