Monday, December 22, 2008

garden plan: bed #2

Three main crops in this bed: soy beans, fava beans, and celery.

Celery is the first one I'll start, sowing the seeds indoors on March 1, to give them about 8 weeks before going in the ground on May first. Fava beans will be planted with the peas on March 15 as soon as the ground can be worked, then soy beans will be planted with the pole beans on April 26 or so.

Soy beans are one type of bean that Camie and I both love. Edamame. Mmmmmm. So I'm going for it with a half bed of them. Fava beans are an experiment. Never grown them before, never eaten them before. But they have a pretty good reputation. Celery. For soups and vegetable stock.

Now for the varieties:
Soybeans: Shirofumi (489FO) and Sayamusume (492SO)
Fava beans: Windsor (299WI)
Celery: Diamante Celeriac (3644DC) and Golden Self-Blanching (3631GS)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

check it out: MyFarm

Don't have enough time to grow veggies in your yard? These guys can help - if you happen to live in San Francisco - but the idea is great anywhere.

"MyFarm is a decentralized urban farm. We grow vegetables in backyard gardens throughout the city. By increasing local food production we are creating a secure and sustainable food system. Using organic practices we strive to grow the best tasting most nutritious vegetables. We ask what vegetables you like and grow them just for you."

MyFarm - check out the video, it's about five minutes.

Also worth checking it, the website of the people that produced the MyFarm video: Edible City.

garden plan: bed #1

This will be the first of my garden planning posts done by each individual bed. The beds are 15 feet long and 30 inches wide, and there are a total of 17.

This first bed will have a trellis, the main crops being pole beans and peas. Camie doesn't like beans, so I'll plant about 2/3 of the bed in peas. The peas will be planted in one row down the middle of the bed, and will be sown directly on March 15, which is the date I'm guessing the soil will be workable. The beans will also be planted in a single row, on April 26, which is the last frost date.

I will also be planting some secondary crops in this bed. At the same time I plant the peas, I will sow radish seeds on either side of where the beans will grow, and spinach seeds on either side of where the peas will grow. These are both very quick-growing plants that will make use of the space on either side of the main crops.

Peas are more of a spring-time crop, and could be done producing by mid-late summer. I'm not exactly sure what to expect, but I have some options in mind if they run out of steam with some room left in the growing season. I could do late-season plantings of fava beans, green onions, or lettuce greens.

Peas and beans, which are in the legume family, replete soil nitrogen. Next year, this bed will be planted with nitrogen-loving plants: lettuces, greens, brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts.) This is part of the crop rotation.

Bored, yet? I know, it's a long post - but there's so much info. Lastly (I promise) are the varieties I'll be planting. The numbers refer to the FedCo catalog.

Pole Beans: Kentucky Wonder (285KW) and Gold of Bacau (284BO)
Peas: Sugarsnap (839SO) and Oregon Giant (818GT)
Spinach: Olympia (2512LY)
Radish: Easter Egg (2224EE) and White Icicle (2262WI)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

where do I go from here?

A lot of the planning work has been completed, which feels great. So what's next?

1. Refine the plan - At this point, I think I have as good an idea what to do with each individual plant as I'm going to have before I actually get into it when the spring rolls around. But what about within each individual bed, where there are often different varieties of plants and dates to think about. So my next step is to go through the beds individually and plan out what will happen in that bed throughout next season. This is a way of double-checking that I am using the space well.

2. Greenhouse - I found a greenhouse design earlier, and I have a spot for it in the garden plan. Now I need to build it. Artichokes and leeks need to be started in the greenhouse in mid-January, which is one month away. Yikes! Time to get busy.

3. Organize the seed exchange with the Garden the Avenues group.

4. Get into the seed catalogs and decide on the different varieties I want to grow. I've talked before about Johnny's Seeds, which I will order some seeds and supplies from. But I've now found another source: FedCo Seeds, which looks quite promising. The catalog is quite entertaining and the prices are amazing. So I'll be looking into it pretty soon and putting my orders together.

5. Irrigation. This isn't too urgent right now, but it's time to start planning it out and researching. I'm not going to have time to water everything by hand, so I'll need a good system, probably drip irrigation. I'm sure I'll be writing more about this later.

garden plan: rough draft is complete

I'm sure that there will be refinements, but the calendar is complete as of today. Tomato was last on the list - I'm not growing turnips, and zucchini was filed under "summer squash."

Here are a couple of screenshots (click on images for larger size) for how I've organized my thinking. The first is my veggie list, with the tomato section show, which contains the different vegetables with some of the pertinent information. This information has been gleaned from Step by Step, with some additional help from seed catalogs for timing and spacing.

The second is my garden calendar, showing April through July, with dates for sowing indoors, transplanting, and direct sowing (putting the seeds directly in the garden beds.)

With this framework, I now have a pretty good idea of what I need to do for next year's garden. Of course, I'll continue to learn and adjust my ideas and strategies, but the basics are in place. It feels pretty good.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

garden plan: in progress

I keep changing the way that I want to plan out the garden, so it's taking quite a while. But I'm working on it, slowly. I haven't done much outside since I put the leaf mulch on (which, by the way, has mostly blown off the raised beds by now. I should have waited for rain or snow - but we just haven't had enough of it. So I'm going to wait until the leaves are wet, then rake them back up onto the beds.) Here's the plan as it stands right now (click for larger, and legible, image.)

Goals of the planning process:
1. Have a calendar of when each of the different varieties are sown (indoors or out), thinned, and transplanted.
2. Plan in such a way as to have a continuous, gradual harvest rather than everything all at once.
3. Make the transition to a smaller winter garden easy.
4. Optimize garden space using succession planting - for example, planting beans in the corn bed so the beans climb up the corn stalks.

That's all I can think of for now, but it's a lot, and it's taking a while to wrap my head around it all. More information will be forthcoming when I get the plan settled in my mind (and on my computer.)