In the Garden: 2016 Garden Plan

Garden Planning ~ Happiness By the Acre (or square foot) ~ Backyard Veggie Gardens

Spring is in full swing, and that means it’s time to turn a bit of attention to the garden. Beyond the basic spring yard cleanup, we also undertake the planning & preparation of our veggie garden. Today I’m sharing a bit about how we plan out our garden, which produces an abundance of fresh veggies for us during the summer months & some stored food for the winter.

I really can’t take much of the credit for the “planning” portion of our garden. My husband, Marcus, is the brains behind it all. A couple years after we moved into our house, he started ripping out the lawn in our backyard & putting in raised beds to practice “square foot gardening”. Each year, more beds were added in the backyard, and along the side yard, while containers & pots started filling both the front & back decks. His urban farming business, Happiness By The Acre, was born from his desire to rip out other people’s lawns to grow even more veggies & provide local, happy, healthy food to his customers.

So, much of our home garden preparation gets lumped into the business. When he starts seeds for work, our household seeds get started too. Not everyone has a “seed room” in their basement with racks & grow lights. I’m pretty lucky that way. Each year, Marcus whips up a garden plan diagram for me to follow for the different areas of the garden:


The Backyard Garden

Garden Planning ~ Happiness By the Acre (or square foot) ~ Backyard Veggie Gardens

We grow the majority of our veggies in these three beds. A lot of it gets eaten fresh during the summer months, while some of it gets stored-up for the winter by pickling, freezing or dehydrating {like carrots & beets, some beans, peas, squash & broccoli}. We have moveable trellis (wood frames with chicken wire mesh) for climbing crops, like peas & pole beans. We also practice succession planting, which means some areas get planted twice during the growing season {R1/R2 on the diagram refer to this. The first crop to be planted will be R:1 and once that is harvested off, the second crop will be planted R:2}.

The big empty white space was a special request this year. Although it means less veggies coming out of the garden, we’re leaving one raised bed space unplanted, so that Sam has place to play in the dirt for the WHOLE summer. Each year, I watch him get so excited to dig & play out there during the very short window after the snow melts and before the seeds go in. This year, he will have his own space to play around in, something that has been missing in all our “plans”.


The Side Garden

Garden Planning ~ Happiness By the Acre (or square foot) ~ Backyard Veggie Gardens

Our side garden consists of three raised, narrow beds that actually run end to end {not side by side as pictured above}. Here we put in some smaller crops of spinach & garlic, and herbs like dill {which we eat fresh & harvest the dill seeds for pickling in the fall}. The chives & garlic chives are tasty additions and I have grown to really enjoy their flowers, which I snip off & bring inside. Such pretty, simple blossoms! One bed is dedicated to our tomato jungle, where we will plant some of our tomato seedlings. The rest go into pots on both the front & back deck.


Gardening Elsewhere

We have a variety of other spots we put in edible plants. As mentioned before, we put pots & containers on the front & back decks for tomatoes, and more herbs {thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano}. There are patches of mint in the front & side flower beds. Every year, we think the mint has died and every year, it makes a good comeback. We also have surprise nasturtiums that pop up in random veggie beds & flower pots. We planted some one year, they went to seed, and the seeds ended up in the compost bins, where they were redistributed throughout the garden. It makes for a very pretty surprise, when they start to bloom. Marcus loves their taste, but I’m not a huge fan. And of course, I can’t forget about one of our very early crops we enjoy… dandelions! Our yard is full of them, and the dandelion greens get tossed into many salads at our house. When I can spare the time, we make dandelion cookies & syrup {using the flower petals}. Yep, we became those hippy folks without really meaning to!

Happy spring prep & planning to you! Before you know it, seeds will be going into the ground & beautiful, tasty green things will start popping up!

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