Garden Dreams

2016-02-04OLDcabbage

2016-02-04OLDtomatoes

2016-02-04OLDmplsharvest

2016-02-04OLDmarigolds

I’ve got lots of plans for my future garden(s), but with a due date at the end of May, the odds of my planting ANYthing this year are slim. Maybe some flower seeds, if I can get them in before Baby Sister arrives. But I didn’t grow anything the summer after M was born, and she was a good seven months old by the time that rolled around. With a newborn? Forget it. But I might as well dream about what I’d like to do, since it’s not like I’d be doing it in February, anyway.

— Not directly garden-related, but I’d like to get two piggies (I’m thinking American Guinea Hogs) for pasture and ground management. They’d do a good job of clearing down some of the weeds in the fields, and I’d like to use them as live tilling machines, too. If I had pigs, I’d change my fenced garden layout to just be straight rows. The planted rows would be covered with landscape fabric to keep the weeds down around the plants, and the rows in between would just be mowed for walking. Each spring (or fall), I could take up all the landscape fabric and let the pigs bring everything back to blank-slate status.

— When we had a blockage cleared from the well pipe this summer, we discovered an additional outlet at the edge of the pasture (ie, saw water suddenly geyser-ing out!). It was capped temporarily and then, before the ground froze, we had a spigot put out there, one that shuts off below the frost line. So now there’s running water available in a ‘new’ spot. Perfect for when there’s one day animals back in that pasture, but I also like the idea of putting a secondary garden out that way — maybe just squash or potatoes, something I wouldn’t worry too much about the deer eating.

— I’d love to have more fruit! Of any kind, really. I miss my productive raspberry patch that I had in Minneapolis (I brought a lot of the canes up here, but most didn’t survive, although they’ve come back / spread a little more each year). I need to figure out a way to let berry plants grow while stopping the weeds that otherwise quickly choke them out. Raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries would be wonderful. It would also be fun to have a mulberry tree or two, although I’d really have to fight off the birds for those. I hope the two plum trees I planted last year will do well in the future. And if I could just figure out how to install a few thirty-year-old apple trees, I’d be set. I’m afraid that waiting thirty years might be the only way to achieve that!

— I’d like to experiment with growing a large crop of broccoli and freezing a lot of it. Broccoli is the vegetable we eat most often, and good-quality, organic stuff can be hard to come by around here. I also want to get serious with row covers for broccoli, as it sort of loses its allure when there are eighty-zillion little green caterpillars to pick off.

— In general, I just want to grow enough of certain things to get us through winters. Being able to make all our own tomato sauce and pesto would be great. There will be years of (possibly endless) experimenting with what works, though. I was really happy with my sunflower crop this year, but they all went moldy within a couple weeks of being cut and put out to dry. Obviously I did something wrong, but I didn’t realize it. That sort of thing is discouraging, but it also makes me want to get it right next time.

Okay, northern hemisphere folks! I know we’re all dreaming about our garden this time of year! What are your grand plans?

9 thoughts on “Garden Dreams

  1. I totally dream of the garden in February. It’s so dreary! I want to plant a couple of apple trees this year. I have a small yard with a few raised beds so I don’t have room for a lot. We also belong to a CSA so that helps. My parents have a lot of acreage so I do benefit from that too.

    I have tried raspberries but they just don’t do well for me. And I might try blueberry bushes again, but the bunnies love, love, love them!

  2. Last year we just let our yard do its thing, since we had just moved in to our house and had no idea what was planted. Turns out, nothing! I’d like a small raspberry patch in our raised bed, but I’m not sure how great the soil is in the raised bed for fruit, and we’d need to rip out some boring spirea bushes. Last year we had two huge planters with tomatoes, one with cilantro, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme (no parsley). We’ll probably do that again, plus some peppers, garlic, and celery – I’m also thinking of trying pumpkins for the first time. John really wants to get some little fruit trees and start to espalier them against our fence (our yard is too small for regular trees), but I’m not sure if that’ll happen this year or not.

    1. Pumpkins are so satisfying to grow — such big things! I’ve had much more success with squashes/gourds than melons, which seem to be so water-needy, although the pumpkins do like a regular drink, too. And FWIW, I don’t think I amended the soil where I planted my raspberries in Minneapolis, and they did great. They do grow quite well in the wild, after all!

  3. this is kinda my wheelhouse so here are my thoughts…

    1. be careful of pigs’n’kids’n’garden beds. pigs carry Ascarid worms. they till garden plots. kids play in the dirt. kids get worms.

    2. highbush blueberries only take a couple of years to produce. from 6 bushes we probably got a quart a day last year, for about 2 months.

    3. grafted dwarf apple trees take only 3-5 years to produce. and you can have multiple apple varieties on one tree which is kinda fun.

    4. look into permaculture, a very pragmatic way of setting up one’s home-based growing system.

    5. consider hardy kiwis. we have 2 vines that produce pounds and pounds of fruit. taste exactly like NZ kiwis only the size of grapes. (larger if pruned, I think. I’m still experimenting with that) they ripen all at once …handy if you want to freeze or can. … but will keep in cool storage (think crisper drawer) for 3+ months.

    1. Thanks, Jen! I had assumed that if the pigs were being prophylactically treated for worms (the way horses are), there wouldn’t be a problem — but it sounds like there could be! The pigs could still till larger garden plots, but maybe I’ll keep them out of the main garden that we hang out in!

      1. I know a lot of people raising pigs for food choose not to worm simply because all worming meds are poisonous. I believe there are natural ways of doing it. If your kidlets aren’t prone to putting dirt in their mouths then you’re prolly golden. Mine were all dirt eaters. *shrug*

        1. Well, we wouldn’t be eating our pigs, so maybe worming is an option. Something to look into! M is well past the dirt-in-mouth phase, but I still definitely wouldn’t want to risk dirty fingers winding up in mouths if worms were a possibility. Thanks again for bringing it up!

  4. ahhh gardens! I was very excited about the raised beds at the house i moved into last year. I am busy with fieldwork in the summers though, so i would be gone for 5-7 days at a time and come back and water for two days then be gone again. We had almost zero rain last summer….you can guess how well that worked out. Got a few peas, the carrots never really did much. the beats were super slow. the cabbages are still hanging out there in their messy purple leaves…the tomatoes did alright…and the spaghetti squash was the surprise; got at least 5 squashes out of my three little rescue plants that i got off the sale rack. Oh, and i learned that tomatillos need a partner. That was sad. the poor plant was so vigorous and hardy; spreading its limbs far and wide, but alas i was too late in finding a mate and they both succumbed to the cooling autumnal temperatures before any love was made…

    THIS year, i’m hoping to get some beds going on the other side of the country…but i won’t arrive until well into the growing season, so we shall see what can be done. hoping to build some cold-frames to keep things like kale and beats on through the winter.

    Oh yes, i through some sunchokes in the ground mid-summerish. THAT was a success. I was told they spread like weeds, but they’re so delicious and productive. figure if you keep them to raised beds and cover the flowers, you could keep their productivity to a manageable level…

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