February 5, 2014

Garden 2014 - Ideas

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If you're from around here, or follow California news at all, you'll know our part of the nation is having an extreme drought. Really extreme. And unfortunately, that means that the price of food will be going up soon to account for it. So in an effort to keep that part of our budget in check, and to be more prepared for things in general, I'm trying to plan our garden again.

I would like to try providing a lot of our food from our garden this year. (Ok, I say this every year and it never works, but good intentions...). I'm going to write it all down here so you all can hold me accountable. If you run into me on the street, ask me something like "Have you been weeding and keeping your garden alive?" That way I can be guilted into keeping it going and maybe that will work.

We already have:
a cherry tree
an apple tree
4 blueberry bushes (although I think only two are still alive)
a lime tree that has yet to produce anything
7 Boysenberry bushes that produce more than we ever wanted, and make for crazy good jam
and strawberry plants I planted last year that have continually bloomed all winter despite my trying to dead head them.

So that's what we're starting with. I'm hoping we'll get at least something from any of those this year.

The first attempt at green bean trellis

What I'd like to plant for the year:
Green Beans
Butter Beans
Various herbs including basil, cilantro, chives, rosemary, and anything else I can squeeze in. And good insect attracting flowers.
And probably some other things that I'm forgetting.

What I learned from last year:
 - Due to our rear neighbor's trees getting larger and creating shade and the height of the fence, the two very back beds of the official garden don't grow much at all.  I will have to stick to the very front of the beds, or maybe not at all. The back flower bed won't grow much either, but I might be able to trick some shade tolerant plants into growing back there.

- Tying the middle trunk of tomatoes to a stake as they grow and  cutting out the little "crotch" shoots will really give a large tomato crop. This practice made my tomatoes the best producing crop out of the whole garden. More on this little trick in a later post.

- Cattle/hog panel zip tied to posts driven into the ground works great as a bean trellis. I'll be doing that again for beans and peas this year.

- I need to get on a feeding schedule. Because our dirt quality is so poor, and we've only been doing this for a few years, I really need to work on fertilizing our plants during the season. We've budgeted for manure/compost and will be doing that in the next few weeks. You know, after we get all the weeds out...

- We definitely need a weed barrier of some sort, because I get very discouraged and give up when the weeds take over. And the heat we get during the summer makes the weeds grow very quickly.

- Double digging the beds last year made a big difference in not only quality (because I dug in compost) but made planting and pulling plants so much easier because the soil was much looser. 

- I think getting some shade cloth will come in handy in keeping our poor plants going when the heat rises during the summer.

I am going to try my best to keep it going and have something to show for it this year. And I want to share how we're doing it to help anyone else that might be on a small parcel (or just wants to garden small). I'll be sharing in the future our official layout for the year, what I'm doing with certain plants, things I'm learning and anything else I can think of.

One thing I am really enjoying already is a little app I purchased for my iPhone. It is called "WhenToPlant", it was $2.00 and it is put out by Mother Earth News. I have tried many times in the past to find information about when to plant in our specific area. And while I've found things that go off our USDA zoning, it never seemed quiet right. It's always warmer here and I think we can plant earlier than the little guides say I can. This particular app goes off of the averages from your nearest weather station, and it seems to be a much closer planting guide. So I am excited to try it out and I'll let you know how it goes.

Are you planting anything this year? I'm curious to know what your plans are and any tips and tricks you might have.

Happy Wednesday,


daisy g said...

Good to hear from you, Meg. It looks like you have a great plan for your garden. We have a few things going right now and will be starting more seeds soon. Happy harvesting!

Reifyn said...

Some veg does very well in the shade—you just have to bee careful which plants you plant where. I do recommend growing herbs in containers rather than the ground: that way you don't get anywhere as much weeds and you can move them about to whatever place you think they'll do best. I grew some other plants in containers, such as spinach (which has VERY long roots, so it's got to be deep); and also carrots, especially the fat stumpy varieties. But weeds really are a big problem when you're growing greens—so try containers! I also usually started most things in trays inside in the widows.

Farm Girl said...

I love reading about your future garden and ll of your plans. I have been staring at mine and thinking of all of the good things I want to plant. I think you have good ideas.

MarmePurl said...

My lettuces do very well in the shady spots. Helps keep them cool from the blazing sun and I get a bit longer growing period. Wire grass is my biggest enemy when it come to weeds. So hard to pull from the ground. Everything else I let live with the veggies. A perfectly weeded garden looks pretty, but weeds are a reality I can live with.
I will be checking in often to see that you are on track! (and getting a peek at those precious boys of yours)

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

You have a lovely list of goodies to plant!! And the app sounds fantastic! I can't wait to see updates. :)

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