Since I moved in to my home, as far back as the second year (it was a new development, so year one we only had a mud pit in the back), I have always had at least a small vegetable garden in my yard. Some years I am more diligent, while others, well the summer gets away from me and all I plant are a few tomatoes and harvest the mint, chives, squash and, potatoes that randomly grow when I don't take care of it. And no, the veggie fairy doesn't visit an plant random things while I sleep. Mint and chives will take over if you're not careful (I found this out the hard way), and since I throw my veggie scraps into a pile in the garden all year, which we spread around each spring, I will get potatoes, watermelon, pumpkin and other types of squash randomly growing in my yard. Those years when I'm just too busy to plant an orderly patch, these grow wild and I still get something from nature to eat.
This is one of the reasons I love my garden.
This year I have BIG plans for my yard. I have planned a whole makeover which will actually take me a few years to realize, but I decided that I'm going to take it slow, do things properly and hopefully within the next 5 years I will be reaping things like grapes and asparagus. I am not a patient woman, I like results right away, so it's actually something of an oxymoron that I find great pleasure in gardening and baking. Both hobbies require patience, consistency, and the following of known patterns. I'm not famous for any of those things, yet gardening, like baking, is one of the things that I love and that I look forward to each spring, especially after what feels like a never ending winter.
Since we just came out of one of those (in Mother Nature's defense, winter really started in January, but everyone here forgets that), I have spent the last few months dreaming, planning, drawing, buying, and seeding. I am so ready for the hard work, but I decided to post my progress weekly here for a couple of reasons - maybe you'll get some great info or idea to try out in your own yard and the most important reason... I can't give up if I'm posting my progress here. It will definitely motivate me to keep going!
For my US readers
So, on today's post I'll share my plan for the back portion of my yard and post pictures of what my yard looks like right now. Warning: it's not pretty! And no, the pictures above are not mine, they're actually from some great websites that I've been pinning information from to prepare for my project this summer. If you're interested in my planting pins, you can follow my two boards: My 2015 Backyard (pins with growing tips for fruit and vegetables I will grow in my actual yard) and Green-ish Thumb (pins with a wide variety of topics ranging from growing tips, beautiful indoor plants, hacks and just great articles about plants).
Here's my master plan for the actual vegetable plot. I know, you're blown away by my technical genius, but sometimes it's just easier to plot something out with a measuring tape, pencil and graph paper. The vegetable plot right now is about 25 feet by 10 feet, and this year I plan to enlarge it the entire length of the back fence, which is about 37 feet long and bring it down about 15 feet.
For my Canadian Readers
Since it is spring, you'll have to excuse the mess you see, but this is the view that is shown in the drawing above. This year I'm planning to take out the wood border, as you can see, I was too lazy to level it out and after a few years, the middle part is sinking quite a bit, the left side is one level, but the middle section is actually two. I already have plans to recycle that wood and depending how far I get with this main project, you may see what I plan with it later.
I'm going to border the whole area with concrete blocks. They're heavy enough that I won't have to worry about staking them into the ground, and I'm going to take the time to actually level them, starting from the right side. Just to let you know, I did not take this picture lop sided - my backyard is actually this slanted! The right side is pretty much a swamp most of the time, so that pear tree you see there is going to go away. Even though it bears fruit every year, it just gets way too much water so the pears taste like crap. I'll get one layer down this year to level out the back and then add another layer next year or even two years from now.
Here's a closer shot of the back left corner. This was where I had planned my herb garden (hence the pyramid) and grapevines. However, I never got around to the herb garden because I ran out of soil to put into the pyramid. It is a great idea and will be used this year, but holy crap does it require a lot of soil! A quick thanks to my mother in law, Mary, by the way, she was kind enough to get that for me for my birthday one year. Yes, I prefer practical gifts, and this definitely fits the bill! I decided against the grapes being here because as I did my research I found that grapes don't like growing in bogs, which is pretty much what this side of my yard is all summer. Raising the garden bed and leveling out the whole back will definitely fix this issue.
Instead of going step by step through my plans as I had intended to do, what I think I'll do is just re post each of these pictures as I accomplish something in that area. The area above will have sunflowers, three sisters, strawberries and some squash and/or melons. Yeah, I'm dreaming big this year!
This is a shot of the other corner. you can see the disaster of the wood border a little more closely this time. The back corner will be honeyberries (haskap), blueberries, strawberries, spinach, swiss chard and kale. The back will not be sectioned off in this manner, rather, I'm planning to have the different areas segregated into raised beds.
This general area will be my brand new compost bin. I have decided to build myself one instead of just throwing everything into a pile in the corner. Yes, I understand that the piles you see here are not in a corner, but that's because these piles are left over from our winter dumpings, where we pretty much just toss our full bin in the general vicinity of the garden. We can't actually see it because mother nature covers it in snow in the winter! Anyhow, I'm going to build one out of concrete blocks that will permanently sit here, or at least that's the plan.
So this is what 'll call the "right fence" side. This is where I'll plant my herb garden, blackberries, raspberries, and gooseberries. Not all in one big pile, but sectioned off. Here's a closer look at that pyramid, it'll be in this general area soon.
So this area is pretty much nothing right now. Maybe just a junkpile, or storage area. However, I have earmarked this corner for great things. Since asparagus has to be planted in a permanent area because you can't even start harvesting until the second year, I've decided to section off this area and plant me some sweet, sweet asparagus!
This is the picturesque back view of my house. Try to contain your envy. Anyhow, this year I'll build a rain barrel system which will attach to the downspout. Under the window on the right (where the hose is) I'm going to build a small gardening (or potting) bench. I'll probably get a tarp or something to cover it when it rains, but I haven't yet really planned out this side of the yard, I just have some ideas that I need to put into motion. The lilac bush will move to the front yard (where it will probably die like the other one, too much sun, I guess) and that whole section will be my medicinal herb garden. I've already started the plans on that one, and I'll post that at a later date once I have it complete.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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