I’d actually started writing this post at the beginning of January, right after I’d talked about my overall 2015 goals. Then I sat on it and kept coming back to it, somehow unable to hit “publish”. I talked about how I had these huge plans to build more raised beds, build a pergola in the back yard, do a big overhaul of the front yard, etc. Then I realized what was keeping me from posting it – it was BS. I had all these big plans that I’ve had for years and somehow I thought I was going to be able to magically come up with A) the money to do them all and B) the time to do them all.
One of the difficult things about being a gardener is that sometimes you want it all now but you can’t. Being a gardener is a huge test of patience. I know that eventually my garden will be exactly what I want it to be, but I need to slow down. I need to do a little bit every year within my budget and time constraints. Sure, I could hire all the work out and pay for it with a credit card, but that would be stupid and irresponsible.
Anyway, how about I stop talking about what I can’t do and talk about what I can do this year! So, after I’d taken a realistic look at what can be accomplished in the garden this year, I came up with a few things that I think are reasonable.
1. Try new things. I always make a point to try growing at least one new thing each year. I’m not talking about varieties though – I’m growing a ridiculous amount of new tomatoes and peppers this year and I know they’ll probably do well because I have experience growing these things. I’m talking about plants that I’ve never grown before. This year I’ve decided on orach, shisho, cow peas, fava beans, and sorrel. I’ve heard that these are all fairly easy to grow so the real experiment will be to see how they do in my short season climate. Although I have attempted to grow watermelon before, it has not been successful. I thought I had given up last year, but I just impulse purchased some new watermelon seeds which are ideal for shorter climate growing season, so I’m going to give watermelons another chance in addition to all the news things I’m trying to grow.
2. Re-evaluate the deck space. Up until a few years ago, our back deck wasn’t utilized. Mostly because it wasn’t very safe, but also because it was tiny and lacked any privacy from the neighbors. When we decided to fix the deck up a bit, we wanted to expand it, but not make the yard look any smaller than it is. So we decided to keep the original deck as is (we did replace all of the top boards, front skirt, and also gave the frame a lot more support so it would last for a very long time), but added a ground level that was more than double the size of the top level. This way we wouldn’t need to get a building permit from the city and we wouldn’t need to add in any railings, keeping everything nice and open (although I think technically we are supposed to have railings on the top deck, but we’re lazy and just haven’t gotten to it yet). Anyway, the first year we had the deck I decided we should buy a larger patio table and chairs because I thought we’d be out there all the time and entertain frequently. But this hasn’t happened and I am not pleased with how we use that space – the patio furniture takes up way too much real estate, so I can’t even keep any planters on the deck. So my idea is to sell the current furniture and keep my eye out for a small metal bistro set. As well, I will use a good portion of the bottom deck for container gardening in pots. All those tomatoes need to go somewhere! And although this will cost a bit of money, the cost for a new bistro set and pots will be minimal.
The original idea was to spray paint these white chairs a bright color, but I think a small colorful bistro set would be a better use of the space so I’ll sell the larger set we have now.
3. Continue removing sod in the front yard. The back yard became sod-free 2 years ago. We took most of that sod and made it in to a mountain, which last year we turned in to Compost Land. And we had big plans to remove all of the sod from the front yard, but just didn’t get to it. Anyway, we’ll continue on with that goal this season and hopefully be sod-free or else as close to sod-free as we can be. Removing sod by hand is time consuming and labor intensive. Some people will argue to differ, but we like to try and save as much of the soil as we can, eliminating waste – so every time we pull out a chunk of sod, we like to hit it and shake it until most of the soil is back where it came from. Anyway, we’ve been slowly working on the front yard and would like for it eventually to be cedar mulch, perennials, and raised vegetable beds. I’m still unsure how the layout will work, but I won’t worry about it much until the sod is completely removed.
4. Utilize the growing space in the back alley. Now that we have the new giant raised bed in the alley, there is an opportunity to use is as a growing space for vegetables. It is going to be an experiment in trust (it is an alley, so sometimes people and animals help themselves to things), as well as an experiment with new conditions. The area is completely full sun and it gets hot in the late afternoon (I got my worst sunburn ever there last year when we built Compost Land). I want to try growing my pumpkins there, but I need to build some chicken wire protectors for the seedlings to prevent squirrels from messing with them, and I might need to put up some sort of climbing support system. We park back there, so I think the pumpkins would have a better chance of not getting damaged if they grow up rather than out. In addition to the large raised bed, I also have a smaller one against the back of my shed in the alley. I currently have raspberry bushes planted in there, which give us a few hand fulls of berries each year, but I think I may want to plant a few more bushes in that space, or else look at something additional I can plant there to fill in a few empty spaces.
I think I’ll leave it at that. Of course I have a million other projects that I’d love to accomplish in the garden, but I’m going to pull back the reins and leave those for another year. I feel good about focusing on removing sod, making the deck space more functional, growing a few new things, and experimenting in a new growing space. Do you have any big or small goals in your garden this year?