Saturday, May 18, 2013

No Garden This Year

I haven't updated the blog with the realization that hit me just before we moved into our new house: we won't have a garden this year. Why is that, you ask? Well, it's mid-May and our backyard looks like this:

Until that dirt pile moves and our yard is graded, there will be no garden construction. Unfortunately, we don't know when that will happen. It could be next week, or "sometime before July 4." You can't really tell in this picture, but the yard really is a good size. Right now, we're planning on using the back 35' of the lot for the garden, which will still leave us with a large yard. Of course, all plans are subject to change until the actual garden goes in, but this is what I'm currently thinking of using for a layout:

This plot is approximately 60' x 35' and features a living fence (hedgerow). I'm not exactly sure what I will plant yet, but I want it all to be edible. The key is to find plants that will all grow to roughly the same height (I would like 4-5 feet) and won't be damaged with a little pruning. Our backyard is open to all of our neighbors, so I want the hedgerow to be presentable.

Our new neighborhood has bylaws that restrict fence building. If I were to get approval to build a fence, it would have to match the character of the house, meaning it would be very expensive. I think a living fence is a good compromise - I can sink chicken wire on the inside to keep out critters, and all my neighbors will see is the hedge.

The beds in the plan are 3' x 16' and 3' x 3', giving me 456 square feet of growing space in the beds. My previous garden had six 4' x 16' beds (384 feet). I know I definitely want more space than I had in my last garden, and I'm a bit too short to reach the center of a 4' bed. I'm using the long and square beds because I want to try to plant each bed in the same family for crop rotation purposes...and a 3' x 16' bed of some plant families might be a bit much. It also gives me flexibility in terms of early/late season planting to make the most use of the space.

I anticipate that at least one of the 3' x 3' beds will be planted with strawberries and another with rhubarb, and one of the 3' x 16' beds might get planted full of asparagus. Perennial herbs may not be a concern, because I have plenty of other areas to landscape around the house and could work my favorites (chives, oregano, thyme) into the landscape.

I hope to have the garden in by fall so I can plant garlic, and maybe get a cold frame growing to overwinter some spinach and other greens. In the meantime, I've signed up for a CSA with Three Brothers Farm. They're just five miles from my house and in their second year of transition to organic. They've told me I can visit whenever I like, and they're planning some formal on-farm events. Hopefully this will satisfy my need to get my hands in the dirt.

So, this year the blog will probably be a combination of CSA photos and related recipes and an update on garden construction. I'm starting to feel the void where my gardening (and fresh produce) normally is this time of year, but hopefully our new garden will be even better. We learned a lot at out last house, and hopefully can avoid a few mistakes this time around.