I am so excited to share with you all what our garden plans look like for the year! 2017 marks the second year of our vegetable garden at the new house. I’m super excited and super nervous all at the same time. I feel like last year was really just a test to see how it went, but this year I feel more pressure for everything to go perfectly. However, if you’re a gardener, you know that things never go perfectly! 😉
Last year, I ran into multiple issues throughout the growing season including bugs, weeds, powdery mildew, and poor soil drainage. Despite all of these issues, we did end up having a very productive season. (You can check out our 2016 gardening yields here!) I don’t want to revisit those issues this year so we are mixing it up a little bit. I truly believe that if we can overcome these issues, we can have an extremely productive garden and eliminate the need for supplementing with produce from local farms.
We have spent a lot of time talking, thinking and planning this year, to find ways to avoid some of these issues. This is what we came up with.
What we’re doing differently this year:
Weed Prevention: Weeds were a H-U-G-E problem in our garden last year. So much so, that it was difficult for me to even keep up with weeding. So this year the name of the game is prevention. If we keep the weeds from taking over, maybe we will have a fighting chance! We prefer to not use chemicals in the garden so, we are going to lay black agricultural plastic to help keep the weeds at bay. I will keep you updated on how this goes!
Plant Placement: We ran into some issues last year with poor soil drainage which resulted in slow development in our tomatoes, peppers and kale. It also prevented most of our seeds on the lower half of our garden from even germinating. We will be planting more “water-loving” plants in the front left corner of the garden (which is the lowest point in our garden) and placing the pickier plants in the back of the garden. We will also be planting a different variety of plants than we did last year. I’ll share the specifics below!
Drainage Pit: My creative, handy hubby came up with the idea to put a drainage pit into the lowest corner of our garden. Similar to what a lot of people have in their basement, we installed a sump-pump in the pit and have been diverting the water to a drainage ditch along the back of our property. In case you want to try this method too, I will be detailing the process in an upcoming blog post!
Seed Starting: I have shared in the past that seed-starting is not my forte. In fact, every time I have attempted it in the past, it has ended in tall, stringy, wilted little stems. After doing some research and buying a few new supplies, we decided to give it another try. We are attempting this on a very small-scale with only about 36 plants. Six plants of six different varieties. I’m already thinking ahead to next year. If the seed starting goes well this year, we may try starting all of our own plants at home next year. That is something we have never attempted before. We typically purchase certain vegetables already started at a local farm and then start the remainder from seeds right in the garden. This would be a huge undertaking for us, but I’m very excited at the prospect of growing everything from seed right at home! It would be a huge step in the right direction towards self-sufficiency. I will keep you posted on how it turns out this year and what we plan to do next year!
Fall & Winter Planting: We will be trying our first cover crop at the end of the growing season this year. We will be planting winter rye to aid in boosting the quality of our soil. This will also help with weed prevention throughout the fall & spring months, prevent the soil from eroding due to rain, snow, and spring thaw, and will also provide added nutrients when we till it into the soil in the spring. We’ll also plant onions and garlic in the fall. We used to do this every year, however the past several years we haven’t gotten around to it. But I’m making it a priority this year!
Soil Improvement: Another method we are trying to improve our soil drainage is to boost the quality of the soil. This is a project that will span over several years. We added a bale of peat moss to the soil in the spring. In the fall, we will be adding a load of high quality top soil to the garden. We will also be adding nutrient-rich compost and composted local horse manure. The compost pile is still a work in process-we will be starting this over the summer! I’m really excited to start researching and learning more about composting! And of course I’ll be sharing what I learn with you guys!
What we are planting in the garden this year:
24 Regular Tomato Plants (Mt. Merit)
12 Roma Tomato Plants (Mariana)
2 Cherry Tomato Plants
3 Jalapeno Pepper Plants (Centella)
8 Bell Pepper Plants (King Arthur)
1 Dill Plant
1 Cilantro Plant
2 Basil Plants
Vegetables we are planting from seed:
Cucumbers *Plus 6 plants we started from seed in the house*
Leaf Lettuce Blend *Plus 6 plants we started from seed in the house*
Spinach *Plus 6 plants we started from seed in the house*
Swish Chard-Bright Lights *Plus 6 plants we started from seed in the house*
Red and Yellow Potatoes *Technically not seeds*
One of our main goals with our garden this year is to eliminate the need to supplement with vegetables from local farms for our canning needs. The majority of our canning is tomato products: tomato soup, salsa and stewed tomatoes. We are more than doubling our tomato plants this year and we also added some variety with the plants. We are planting 24 regular tomatoes, 12 roma tomatoes and also 1 or 2 cherry tomatoes! In the past, we have planted only regular tomatoes. If all goes well, this will be yet another step in the right direction towards self-sufficiency.
The Herb Garden:
We added a rosemary plant and an oregano plant to the herb garden this spring. My oregano did not come back this spring, so I had to replace it. And the rosemary is an annual, not a perennial. So we plant this every year! The following is a list of the herbs that we already had in the herb garden: Lavender, Spearmint, Lemon Balm, Tarragon and Chives. These have all been coming back year after year and are healthy as ever!
So that’s what our garden plans are for the season. What are your plans for your vegetable and herb gardens this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below-I love to hear from my readers!