Last year we decided to garden. Our plan wasn’t that well-coordinated. Bryan built 2 raised beds into the backyard – maybe there’s 60 square feet between the two of them. The garden started from seed, a lot of which I got for free at work. We had zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, corn, and pumpkins – tons of pumpkins. The starts were great and we were already excited. And then we went away for a weekend. They didn’t get watered and pretty much everything was dead. We salvaged 6 corns plants.
So we started over. We collected vegetable plants along the way and put them in the dirt. It was a bit of a random assortment – broccoli, jalapeno peppers and eggplant we found cheap at the grocery store. I don’t even really like eggplant, I just like the way they look. We picked up 3 different kinds of tomatoes including awesome yellow cherry tomatoes and some cucumbers and watermelon. There were a couple of bell peppers, an ever-bearing strawberry and a blueberry bush. Then there were the herbs – lemongrass, 3 types of basil, lemon verbena, thyme, tarragon, oregano, marjoram, catnip, dill, cilantro, lavender and pineapple mint.
We had amazing success! And we couldn’t believe how much fun it was to watch throughout the year. We were addicted to it. There were some fails – the watermelons never made it and we were too late to replant pumpkins. But we had a ton of vegetables and more herbs than I knew what to do with. We’ve just started running out of some of them and we probably have enough lemongrass to last a couple of years.
So….we’ve started planning for this year. If you understood how we do everything you would already know – things are going to be a lot different. We always go big – we dream big, we laugh big and we overdo almost everything along the way. We just don’t know how to do it differently. In addition, we’re lucky enough to have about an acre of property. So things could get big fast, right? Well, unfortunately, we also have A LOT of deer that roam around thanks to our wonderful neighbors who installed a deer feeding station in their backyard (“it keeps them from eating everything else” – well, maybe in your yard!). We have a herd of at least 10 deer that make their way through the yard almost daily. They can decimate everything in a matter of hours.
Therefore, our new plans called for a little creativity. Easy enough! We’ve been reading a bunch of books on the subject of homesteading – one in particular lends itself immensely to our garden planning. The Edible Front Yard, by Ivette Soler, offers an awesome combination of garden plans and plant detail. We’ve found edibles that are beautiful and that we never would have discovered. Buy it and she will single-handedly make you fall in love with the idea of growing artichokes – whether you like to eat them or not.
We’ve decided to add a number of features to our garden this year and are expanded our growing list exponentially. Yes, it’s daunting and it may go down in flames. It will be fun, though. So, to deal with the deer and still grow as much as we can manage here’s the rough plan:
– We have a space in between our house and detached garage that we’ve termed a courtyard. This is where our outdoor eating space is, along with a small fire pit and lounging chairs. This is now going to be boardered by our corn/squash/bean patch on one side and a living fence with a small gate on the driveway side. What’s going to make up that living fence you ask? Five different types of hops. Yeah, it’ll be awesome.
– We’re going to focus most of our vegetable and herb growth in the courtyard since it should be pretty well protected from the deer. There’s a plan for a lettuce/herb wall of some sort (probably the recycled palette idea I’ve seen floating around) to close off some of the eating space, a tiered planter in one corner for broccoli, peppers and other veggies, and a hanging space for topsy-turvy type planters that will house at least the tomatoes.
– We’re going to take all the lawn out of this area and re-purpose the space with the herbs and lettuce, adding big greens and artichokes. There will be the addition of a privacy fence and two trellis for the cucumbers and snap peas.
– The original raised beds in the backyard are going to remain. One will house strawberries (our plant from last year has come back with a vengeance) and the other carrots and asparagus. These will be bordered with onions, garlic and leeks and surrounded by beds of watermelon.
– There’s going to be the addition of rose bushes (for rose hips), hibiscus and a sunflower patch along the front of the house, too. And last, but not least, the pumpkin patch will be on the backyard side of the garage.
I know I’m probably forgetting something, but that’s okay! I want to keep tabs on all our progress here on the blog. I’ll have before pictures here soon to get a lay of the land and, if the weather ever starts to hold, some actual progress to report. Later this week I’ll also be compiling a full list of planned plantings. Up until this past week we had great weather here in Northeast Ohio and we almost thought we’d have seeds in the ground by now. Now we’re back to normals and in the 40s/50s/60s sporadically. If the rain holds out hopefully we can break ground this week. And I can’t wait!