Sunday, January 15, 2017

Planning Gross Farms 3.0

It's been a while since I published a post on this blog. There a few reasons for that. After the 2014 gardening season wound down, I decided to focus on getting my dissertation written. I'd been sitting on an almost-finished proposal for over a year. After nine months of solid focus, I defended my dissertation in September 2015. This gardener now has a Ph.D.! 2015 was a great year for gardening but I didn't have time to write about it.

Also in fall 2015, my husband accepted a job offer with the company I work for. This meant we were both commuting almost an hour each way, which seemed silly. We started to hunt for a home closer to work, in the country, with lots of land for us to pursue our hobbies (including gardening). We found it! In December 2015 we moved into our new house in the tiny hamlet of Kroghville, WI. It's located on a 1.6 acre lot and was previously home to a master gardener, so there are beds everywhere, mostly filled with perennial flowers. We took 2016 as a year to figure out what is really growing here, and how we might want to adapt it to make it our own.

Existing Spaces and Plans

We certainly have an amazing canvas to work with.

grass and overgrown perennial gardens

The side border and the front of this perennial garden will stay in flowers for the foreseeable future, although we have a lot of work to do to clean them up. They've been spreading and left unweeded for a few years.

grass and overgrown perennial gardens

At about the point where the pergola is built, I'll start my vegetable garden. There's about a 400 square foot area here for planting. When possible, I"ll transplant some of the special flowers that are currently in that space. Plans for that space include peppers, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, beans, cucumbers, and strawberries. There is an existing rhubarb plant.

garden plan

The further back you go along the fence, the more overgrown it gets. I've started clearing a 28' x 5' bed here.

Overgrown perennial bed with the following text: It has been determined. This will be a garlic bed (probably with room for other things). Now I need a frost to kill all this stuff so it's easier to rip out.

Plans for this space in 2017 are garlic, corn, and and asparagus patch.

garden plan

On the west side of the house is an amazing pond. Between the perennial border and the pond is a 60' x 6' strip of grass that is difficult to get to with the mower, and holds a lot of water. I'm going to remove the grass and put in six 3' x 8' raised beds, surrounded with stones.


Plans for this space in 2017 include: onions, carrots, fennel, celery, beets, chard, kale, broccoli, and tomatoes.

This will give me a total of 684 square feet of growing space in year one, if I can get it all in this spring.

Initial Preparation

I've already started on the side border, and have a 8' x 4' block of German Extra Hardy garlic planted that I picked up at the local farmers market. The purchase of a new rear-tine tiller made this job a bit easier—and more fun!

Tilled and planted garlic bed

Seed Order

Yesterday I placed my seed order. Here are the varieties I plan to grow in 2017 (will all be started from seed in my basement or in the beds).
  • Asparagus: Will decide on variety when I see what the local greenhouse has.
  • Beans: Rattlesnake, Purple Pod
  • Beets: Lutz Winter Keeper
  • Broccoli: Arcadia
  • Carrots: Mokum (early), Dragon (main crop), New Kuroda (late/storage)
  • Celery: Conquistador
  • Corn: Golden Bantam 8 Row
  • Cucumber: Diva, National Pickling
  • Eggplant: Black Beauty, Slim Jim
  • Herbs: Florence fennel, Caribe cilantro, Dukat dill, Greek oregano, Italian parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme
  • Kale: Red Russian
  • Onion: Yellow Sweet Spanish, Red Wing
  • Peppers, Sweet: California Wonder, Sweet Banana, Chocolate Beauty, Purple Marconi, Lilac Bell
  • Peppers, Hot: Cayenne - Long, Early Jalapeno, Habanero
  • Potato: I have ideas but might see what the local garden center has to offer.
  • Strawberry: Will wait on local garden center
  • Squash, Summer: Lebanese White Bush, Zephyr, Cash Flow zucchini
  • Squash, Winter: Red Kuri, Waltham butternut, Vegetable spaghetti
  • Tomato: Plum Regal, Blondkopfchen, German Pink, Moonglow, Incas Hybrid, Little Napoli Hybrid, Health Kick, Riesenstraube
This is actually a short list compared to past years, but I'm starting slow (for me). I've also signed up for another half share of a CSA just in case I don't have the luck I suspect in our first year here. I anticipate I'll be preserving a lot of food in 2017!