In the Garden: Garden Planning

Gardening Planning ~ Blog post by Bubblegum Sass ~ Garden journals from Taproot Magazine
Seeds from West Coast Seeds and garden journals from Taproot Magazine

There might still be the occasional snowflake falling from the sky these days, but it is time to turn some attention to garden planning & prep. My hubby is truly the brains behind the operation, while I lend my hands & time to the work in the spring, summer & fall. He comes up with our garden plan each year, while he plans out the other yards for his urban farming business. Even the seeds for our own garden get lumped into orders for Happiness By The Acre.

The majority of our seeds come from Heritage Harvest Seed {Manitoba} and West Coast Seeds {British Columbia}. In our house, seed ordering typically happens in early January, followed by the steady arrival of packages through February. Seeds only went into soil last week though, as we waited on the availability of new equipment. Hubby is working to expand his operation a bit, which meant redesigning his “seed starting” space, getting new racks, & lighting. It’s up and running now and the first of the tomatoes have sprouted!! Exciting times!

I thought I would share our home garden plan with you, for those who are curious about these types of things. Again, shout out to my hubby who does the plans up in a handy visual so I can just grab seeds (or seedlings) and start planting, even when he’s absorbed in the yards elsewhere. Our home garden is based on the square foot gardening method so that we get quite a bit of production out of a relatively small space. We have built raised beds in both the backyard and the side of the house. The first year in our house, we just did one raised bed and then built additional beds over the years. The best advice, start small. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much you can grow in a small space and you don’t want to overwhelm yourself to the detriment of your garden.


The Backyard Garden

Garden Plan

We have three raised beds in our backyard and these are where the majority of our veggies are grown. We rotate which bed crops are grown in each year, have moveable trellis (wood frames with chicken wire mesh) for climbing crops and also a relay schedule for some areas (a type of succession planting). The R:1/R:2 in the diagrams refers to this succession planting schedule. The first crop to be planted will be R:1 and once that is harvested off, the second crop will be planted R:2.

We have a West facing backyard in Calgary, and typically plant the following: kale, rainbow chard, broccoli (technically broccolini), romaine lettuce, green onions, beets, radish, carrots, kohlorabi, summer squash, patty pan squash, pole beans & peas (which both grow on the trellis), and a variety of bush beans.


The Side Garden

Our Backyard Garden Plan ~ Designed by Happiness By the Acre ~ Square foot gardening in Alberta

Our side garden consists of three raised, narrow beds that actually run end to end (not side by side as pictured above). We have an entire bed of self-seeding dill, which we tend to. I wasn’t very interested in having that much dill when hubby first proposed it, but my goodness, soooo tasty!! It’s one of the things I look forward to each summer. Fresh dill on EVERYTHING! And of course, the dill seed is wonderful to have for all our pickling in the autumn (saves us a bundle). We plant one bed with some tomatoes, which often grow into a real jungle. We plant a lot more tomatoes in big pots on both our front & back decks too. The last raised bed is where we grow a couple variety of chives, garlic and some spinach. The past two years we have also grown ground cherries in these beds, but we’re taking a break from them this year.


Gardening Elsewhere

Besides the raised beds, we also do gardening in lots of pots, containers, and random spots in the yard. As I mentioned before, a lot of our tomatoes go into pots on both the front & back deck. These get different light exposures and the pots in the front are protected by an overhang. This might seem like a slight detail, but as we typically get hail in Calgary (and BIG hail in the North West), I like having half my tomato plants protected. On the front deck we often have containers of fresh herbs & kale. We have a variety of mint planted in random spots too, which make a nice treat now & then (mojito anyone?).

We’ve still got plenty of other spots we could convert to eatable plants, but I also like having pretty flowers to look at too. It just completes a garden in my mind, especially since we literally live in ours during the summer. Besides, this is all enough for me to handle right now with the help of little hands, and an every watchful gardening pro (aka Marcus). You’ve got to keep in mind with a garden, it’s not just about growing the food, it’s about eating it and preserving the harvest too. Both add work & time to the picture.

What are some of your favourite crops to grow? Or what are your plans for the garden this year? I’d love to hear, and if you’re not in Calgary, maybe you could share where you’re located?

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