Friday, December 26, 2014

Garden Plans and Explantions: Part 1

Well, it's that time! A time of great frustration and anxiety. A time of great expectation and great dreams. A time of a tenacity for short tempers and, yet, daydreaming. We are (hopefully) between land sales. Our land out West is under contract, but hasn't sold yet. We are looking at new properties, but haven't bought yet. Our buyer wanted to close in 2014, but couldn't get the lawyer work done. He said Dec. 22, then we had to change it to Jan. 8. Now, it is Jan. 28. Holiday conflicts. Vacation problems. Etc. If the lawyers can complete everything early, then the plan is to move the date up.

We have made 3 trips this fall to Kentucky looking at properties. We had a good number of properties to look at. One place Fiona wanted to “just look at the house, it looks so nice”. It is a Bedford Stone house [Indiana Limestone]. 

It had not been  a serious contender, the land looked too steep, she just wanted to sight see. To see what the house really looked like and then move on. This house has two identical kitchens. One is over the other. Each is complete. One is upstairs on the main floor, the other is in the basement. The one upstairs has windows over the sink. The one downstairs, has no windows. When they remodeled, they just moved everything downstairs. The one in the basement was still in great shape, just a little dated. They use it as a canning kitchen. And, moving on, I believe it used to be an attached two car carport. They enclosed it and and made a wonderful sunroom out of it. It is two car carport wide and goes from the front to the back of the house. It entails the entire end of the house. Needless to say, the house IS nice. But, there is no bottom land.

This is a hillside property. I can use it for garden spots. I can make it work without too much trouble. But, it will be more work. Workable, but more work. For the animals, they won't care. It would be great for them. Nice grass. The land is hillside, but not overly steep. We are hoping to have three gardens: a spring, a summer, and a fall/winter garden. And each garden in large enough proportions for at least a three or four year crop rotation. I can still do this on the hillside, but the garden spots are smaller and spread across the hillside. Instead of three locations, we may have seven or eight locations. And each would have to be fenced, in addition to the perimeter and cross fencing for the animals. More expenses.

To maintain some semblance of sanity, we are working on seed and plant orders for the new and unknown property. It IS that time of the year! It is hard to plan for something you don't have any knowledge of. So, we are doing a general, “what if” plan. We will have to finalize the orders once we get a new place, if everything does go through. We are hoping to be able to do a spring garden. If everything is completed too late, we will have to start with a summer garden.

Example Garden Plan

I guess I should explain a little what I am referring to. A “spring “ garden is a garden planted EARLY in the spring with frost tolerant crops like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, lettuce, beets, radishes, spinach, and... You get the idea. You plant these while there is still a danger of frost. Usually, they will not survive the summers heat. Then, we would till everything under and cover crop the entire patch. Later in the summer, this could be cut for hay or livestock could be turned in to fertilize the garden spot. Next year, you would just move over to the next rested spot, till it up and plant it.

A summer garden is planted with crops that can not stand up to a frost. This would be tomatoes, corn, beans, squash, eggplant, peppers, melons, sweet potatoes, okra, and … Again, you get the idea. These are all planted after all danger of frost is past. Most will grow and produce until the fall frosts kill them. Some people refer to them as the main season crops. To us, they are just variations on a theme, another part of the garden. When Jack Frost is near, it is time to strip the garden and put in a cover crop for the winter protection.

A fall garden is just a spring garden planted for fall/winter harvest. You plant it at various times in the middle to later summer, depending on the days required for maturity. The idea is to have that particular crop mature just before or after the beginning of frost. These are going to have varying degrees of frost/freeze tolerance. Kale and collards are much better tasting after a couple of good frosts. Carrots left in the ground and covered with a good layer of straw, can be harvested all winter long. Each is worked out according to its ability to withstand frost and freezing. They are season extenders to us. They enable us to eat fresh way into the winter.

Another Example of Garden Plans

Why do we want three different garden plots? Economy of motion. Everything in the same area. Not having to plant here, there, and yonder. Not having to harvest here, there, and yonder. We have had too many problems with trying to till and harvest in adjacent strips of the garden. Plow/till the whole plot at one time. Plant. Weed. Harvest. Everything is simpler. It is easier to get a good cover crop on the garden. You can turn the animals onto the plot to clean it and fertilize it. Everything just seems to flow so much smoother. I'm lazy and this just works so much better.
A Herb Garden Plan adaptable to a slope.

And the three or four year rotation is to rest the land. To cut back on pest and disease carryover from one year to the next. By turning chickens and hogs onto the garden plot, you get rid of a lot of grubs and bugs. This means less problems next year. They will eat a lot of the plants and debris. They fertilize the garden plot. Turn it all under and plant a cover crop. This will help enrich the soil and reduce erosion. It is a win – win. The animals are happy and we are happier and the garden is happy.

Thats enough for now, we have a long haul ahead of us yet. I will continue this train of thought in my next post.



  1. It is such a blessing to have the time to plan and research. I know that I am 'smarter' about what I need and what works best after 9 years here. I hope to apply what I've learned to my next (and final) property.

  2. The planning and research us helping keep us sane while we wait!