Tag Archives: garden planning

Never Big Enough Garden

My garden is actually as big as I can try to take care of. Yet at planting time it is the never big enough garden.

Every year I carefully plan out what I will plant. The potatoes will be in this bed. The tomatoes will be in these beds. The trellis for the peas and beans move to a new bed.

Even though I’ve covered much of the garden with cardboard and mulch, weeds appear. The beds and pathways seem endless as I pull up these stubborn garden invaders.

Now the garden seems to have plenty of room.

Burgundy okra dwarfs my never big enough garden
Lots of people seem to dislike okra because it is slimy. Burgundy okra is much less slimy and has a good flavor. The plants can get big. I had one top 13 feet. These tall plants need protection from strong winds. They like it on the hot side of warm with plenty of water, but no soggy roots.

Then the seeds and transplants start arriving. At first everything fits well. It fits until I run out of places to put plants that always seem to grow bigger than planned for. The never big enough garden strikes again.

One of the big offenders is the winter squash. Butternut isn’t so bad. I can turn the vines to fill the allotted space. Tahitian melon and Yuxa squash definitely don’t cooperate.

Perhaps I should stop growing them. Except these two are goat favorites. They are prolific and good keepers so the goats have treats all winter providing needed vitamins.

Another offender is the okra. I grow three kinds: burgundy, jing and burmese. If the plants stayed four to five feet tall, there would be plenty of room. The last few years the plants have topped out nine to ten feet tall. Harvesting is interesting as I am five feet tall.

Lots of Speckled Roman tomatoes fill my never big enough garden
Paste tomatoes are great for winter storage. Speckled Roman tomatoes are big and meaty with a great taste. Those with no blemishes are frozen whole. The skin slides off when they thaw. Others make good juice and sauce. They are good for fresh eating too.

The biggest offender is me. I keep cutting back on how many tomato and pepper seeds I start. I start them late due to temperature and light considerations so those my garden will not accommodate don’t sell as other gardeners have filled their gardens all ready.

Those seedlings are trying so hard to grow into productive plants. I hate to toss them out to die. My never big enough garden surely has a corner somewhere for these little plants. Except they soon become big plants.

And my garden is well on its way to becoming the usual summer jungle.

Hazel Whitmore’s mother and grandfather compete with their tomatoes in “Mistaken Promises“.

Buying Seeds Galore

January thaw. The garden beckons. Spring is coming. I’m buying seeds to suit my garden dreams.

Gardens have a finite size. No matter how many books come out about squeezing more plants into less space, the only way to have more space is to make a bigger garden. Bigger gardens mean more work. Mine is big enough.

buying seeds for peas and greens
Red cabbage is unusual in my garden. I think it will show up more often in the fall since it is more frost hardy than the green cabbage. These will be gone by March. Peas will move in by the end of March. Maybe some spring cabbage. Maybe lettuce. Choices, choices. So many seeds to choose from.

Rationally I should calmly assess how last year’s garden worked. What grew well? What did we eat? What did we like? What was a waste of time?

Buying seeds is not done rationally. Not by me. Well, a little.

The catalogs make everything look fantastic. Those gorgeous vegetables look delicious.

We love corn. Corn takes lots of room. Raccoons love corn. I don’t grow corn.

buying seeds for spring planting in a mulched bed
What will grow here? Last year Chinese Winter Melon spread its vines down the section between okra plants. Maybe Yukon gold potatoes will grow here this year. The pathway is full of dead nettle and chickweed for the spring bees. That will disappear under mulch in late April.

Winter squash is wonderful. I love growing pumpkins. Both take lots of room. How many can two people eat? The goats don’t mind eating the extra.

My diet needs more greens in it. Not everyone in the household agrees. However, I have friends who love the extras.

Rutabaga is one vegetable I rarely have any luck with. I love this root crop. It hates the Ozarks. I persist.

Spinach, snow peas and peas are on the early list. Yard long beans are on the later list.

Potatoes are definitely on the list. They grow so well. I do plant fewer as we can’t eat them all.

No need for buying seeds for the garlic patch
All winter the garlic has settled in under the mulch. This is one crop planted in the fall as spring garlic gets burned by summer heat in the Ozarks.

Four summer staples are on the list. Okra, summer squash, sweet peppers –both colored bell and long ones – and tomatoes will be in the garden. I always seem to end up with many more plants than planned for.

Buying seeds is such fun. Garden dreams are so wonderful. Reality sets in about June. By then it’s too late for rationality. The garden will again become a jungle, a delicious jungle, a frustrating jungle.

And I will do it again next year.