Planning to Succeed

Did you ever have one of those obnoxious supervisors that said things like, “If you fail to plan then you plan to fail”? I know I have. As annoying as it is to hear planning is an important step in gardening. We have made some drastic changes to the infrastructure of the Food It Yourself Garden this year.  We are planting primarily in raised beds. One reason for this is that our soil is so full of stones, rocks, pebbles, and boulders that there is really no other way to expand our growing area. Also, the beds are narrow enough that I can weed without stepping near the plants. Compressed ground is the enemy of every garden plant. Finally, it will help reign in the chaos that is my typical planting method.

To maximize my chances of success I employed the principles of companion planting. I have mentioned this method before, but it’s been a while. In short, some plants grow better when they are near each other.  There are plenty of lists, charts and infographics on the internet that can help you plan your companion planted garden. Here are two I used.

Ultimately, here is how it all played out:

Step one was building and filling some raised beds. We found a local place that could deliver a 50/50 mix of loam and compost. A few weeks later when the rain stopped I was able to fill the beds. I raked in a little balanced fertilizer as I layered in the soil. I could not find my fertilizer scoop so I used a quahog shell. Because I’m a yankee and that’s how we roll.

I got a few sprouts from my early-planted greens, tomatoes, and peppers. Maybe-there are some things sprouting in the area but they are still too small to identify. To be safe, I raided my local garden center for a few six-packs.  Also, I gave my supervisor some bee balm and chives so she gave me a six-pack of tomato plants. Because we’re both gardeners and that’s how we roll.

On a sunny day after work I gathered my plants, my seeds, and my planting plan and I set to work. It took a couple of hours, but it felt good, and it looks good!

Bed 1: not there just now, but this bed will house Martha Clucker, Madame Ovary, Camilla, and Agnes Featherduster. Yes, this is where the chickens’ coop will go.

Bed 2: Six hills of zucchini. I could have planted less, but I would still end up with too much. In between, I transplanted my lavender shrub. I also added sage, rosemary, and two thyme plants.

Box 3: Twelve cherry tomato plants, twelve peppers (six mixed-color-sweet-bell, six hot), and six basil plants. Tomatoes, peppers, and basil get along well in the garden and in the kitchen.


Box 4: Twelve Roma tomatoes for ketchup and sauce, six Lemon Boy tomatoes because I love them, six parsley plants and six more basil plants. Also, I planted some seeds for Homburg Rooted Parsley, a cool heirloom that is grown for leaves and roots.


Box 5: Eight hills of cucumber, interspersed with lettuce and a multicolored green called orach.


Box 6: Peas and carrots here, because they are totally BFF’s! I also planted some string beans. The structural components are collapsible bamboo supports for the pea plants.

I still have a few things to plant. The turned over section of garden that does not have raised beds on it will be planted with pumpkins and their companion vegetable sweet corn. That is Mr. Food It Yourself’s thing, though. We’re planting sunflowers and an ornamental grass called “bunny tales” in front of the house.  And I need some oregano; the garden center was sold out. I cannot grow so many tomatoes and not have oregano for the making of tomato sauce. My planting turned out to be perfectly timed, as we are slated for 2 days of intermittent showers.  I wish I could say I planned that, too!

I feel really optimistic about the Food It Yourself garden this year. Our sopping wet spring has replenished the drought-ravaged water table in New England. The warm weather has arrived, though. Pretty soon I’m sure we will have plenty of home grown goodness in our DIYet. I’ll certainly keep you updated on our progress. How is your garden coming along? Share in the comments section!

FYI: If you are interested in finding really interesting seeds, I order a lot of mine from Baker Creek and Seed Saver’s Exchange.