Vegetable Garden Planning for 2018

Time for garden planning!  It has been a little bit warmer the past few days and I am itching to move my compost from the bins behind the barn to my garden beds.  Last year, the garden was amazing with simply using composted horse manure from our horses.  However, it hasn’t stayed warm enough for the compost piles to thaw so I’m a bit stuck.  Well, hyperfocusing on the design must be done.

gardening plans

Grow Lights

I try to grow everything from seed and start early.  I know we are just going to hit February in a few days, but I’m in Zone 7 (bordering Zone 6) and have the space to work indoors.  Eventually, I will take the seedlings and place them in the mini greenhouse I built, but until then, I will use my dining room table and a grow light.

grow lightsSpeaking of Grow Lights, I purchased these recently.  I love to have fresh herbs in my kitchen; however, growing them from seed in the middle of winter is quite the task.  I don’t have great luck with all of my herbs during the winter, but these grow lights have made a huge difference.

See the sweet little seedlings?  I will be doing all my seed starting inside of my house, using my dining room, and grow lights.

winter gardening

Back to the gardening plans – Last year, I had the U shape inside of the chicken run, but I have since added the outside L shape.  This is very exciting for me as I’ve almost doubled our space right here.  I labeled everything but the orange dots you see are for flowers that are natural pest control which I will list below.  I tried to keep everything very natural last year but didn’t think about flowers to help control.  We didn’t do too badly with this except that the cucumbers had squash beetle infestation and the tomatoes ended up with a late blight.  I still got quite a lot of tomatoes, plenty to can for the whole year for our family; however, I don’t want to deal with blight again if I can help it.   I will be using some pesticides/fungicides this coming year, but will keep it minimal.

early garden planningNote the future beehives – I will share the build and experience with them this spring.

raised bed gardensYou can see there is not much space left for the gourds and pumpkins but that is because they will either climb the sides of the chicken run and cover it like last year which was great as it doubled for shade in the heat of the summer for the chickens or will trail down the hill.

If you check out this picture to the left, you can see how it was only two gourd plants that covered the entire top of the chicken run.  This was mid-construction on the additional raised beds.  This wood was all from our pool deck that we tore down.  It was great to be able to re-purpose.  This entire garden/run will be getting a facelift shortly and I will share here.  I loved building in the hill because now we have levels.  I can still build out further.

I admit, I’m a bit concerned about the pole beans being near the onions.  We will see how this goes.  I will be building another obelisk for the green beans to grow up at the corner of the garden.

In addition to this area, I also have a few more areas to plant this year.  this area.  We have an old shed that I’m in the process of fixing up.  This shed is very very old.  The retaining wall has been falling apart for years.  We discussed fixing it but just hadn’t gotten around to it.  Of course, it really bothered me after we got the horses here and I walk past it daily.

restoring retaining wall garden

I finally decided with the old deck wood to build the retaining wall up and make yet another raised bed.  We aren’t using it for anything, may as well put  more composted horse manure in and grow useful things like vegetables.  Again, this was in mid build and since, it has been completed.  I will get better pictures later.  This gave a wonderful amount of room for another garden area.  This area doesn’t get as much full sun, so I will have to plant shade tolerant vegetables.

I will build a frame to attach strings to grow peas closest to the shed wall, then broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, and spinach.  This will hopefully work out with having a bit of extra shade.  I do believe we get about 5-6 hours of sun in this area per day.

On the left of the picture below, you can see yet another area I built this year.  It’s by the mini greenhouse – only strawberries and blueberry plants are there.

raised bed garden plan

And yet more, I had built big hay feeder bins for our horses but a certain brat likes to dump them over.  They are around 100 pounds each, and every day, she turns them over, so we are tired of righting them.  In an effort to not waste anything, those will become large containers for planting (and I’m redesigning the feeding situation now), and of course, I have completely separate plans for the deck for flowers and such, but will be incorporating some container vegetables as well.  Carrots I will do in containers.  The reason why is that the composted manure is a little lumpy in areas and doesn’t create the prettiest carrots.  Everything else has grown amazing in it, but the carrots need softer soil.  When I grew in containers at the end of last season, they did much better in a peat moss/soil/compost mixture.

The planning process has begun!  I will share more in the upcoming weeks regarding germinating seeds and where to buy and what kinds we chose.