Garden Plan 2009

I will freely admit up front that I am absolutely insane. Don’t try this at home…

[EDIT: ok, one thing you should try at home is planting your beds by plant families. It makes it much easier to rotate your crops that way. See the Kitchen Garden details for an example.]

First, an overview. Scroll down for details.

Kitchen Garden

This kitchen garden is raised beds, mostly 4’x8′, and is just a few steps out the back door from the kitchen. It is my original garden and will have the salad crops that need the most attention and will be harvested the most often. Starting with bed 1 in the upper left:

  • Legumes = pole (Fortex) and bush green beans (Contender).
  • Brassicas = Winterbor and Purple Peacock kale (which is halfway to broccoli)
  • Tomatoes = Amish paste and San Marzano (probably)
  • Alliums = onions, garlic, and shallots
  • Peas = Sugar Sprint (from my saved seed); Beans = some kind of green beans
  • The brassicas with the yellow and pink dots are rutabagas and turnips.
  • Curcurbits = pickling cucumbers
  • Root veg = carrots and beets (I forget the varieties); chard = Rhubarb chard
  • Strawberries = Honeyoye (sp? I’m not crazy about these)
  • Herbs = cumin, corriander, fennel

These beds rotate in numerical order, by plant family. So, this year, bed 1 is legumes. Next year, bed 2 will be legumes. If you look, you’ll see it’s four years until any bed hosts the same plant family. This helps control pests, and in the case of legumes, it helps feed the soil.

The bed below is a bit bigger and further out than the kitchen garden. Its job is to raise food to go to into storage – freezer, root cellar, or the local food bank. Each bed is 4’x20′. (I find 4′ wide is what I can reach across if I have access from both sides. Any bigger and I have to walk on the beds.) Stuff here needs much less tending and each crop only needs to be harvested once or twice a season. I’m going to experiment with ollas (porous clay pots) to water the squash.Storage garden

Below is the biggest garden (10’x70′) and the furthest from the house. It’ll need hoeing and maybe water but not much else tending. If I go nuts, this is the bed that will get neglected first. It’s basically a Three Sisters garden (much more spread out than last year). The corn will be Nothstine Dent, a Michigan heirloom corn.
Grain garden

This is the greenhouse in the spring (8’x12′)Spring greenhouse

And finally…this is the greenhouse in the summer:



  1. Robyn M. said,

    February 17, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Questions about your greenhouse: do you plant in the soil in your greenhouse, or use trays, or both? Do you transplant out what you’ve grown in the house?

  2. TeacherPatti said,

    February 17, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    How do you grow dry beans? That’s probably a dumb question, but I really don’t know.

  3. Sarah said,

    February 17, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Wow! I am in awe over these precise garden plans. You are so inspiring. Will Preserving Traditions ever have a gardening help related meeting? I feel like I could learn so much from your gardening techniques.

  4. Emily said,

    February 18, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Robyn- I plant right in the soil in the greenhouse. I may add a shelf for starting seedlings, too, but mostly things grow in the earth.

    Patti- Dry beans are easy! Just plant the bean plant, as per usual for green beans. Then, ignore them (except for watering). They’ll grow and dry right on the plant. In the fall, pick the dried pods and shell the beans. Let ’em dry for a couple days (I use a rectangular sieve) and put them in a jar in the cupboard. It takes a LOT of plants to make dried beans, though! An 8×4 bed might make two or three pints of dried beans.

    Sarah- Your wish is my command! We could totally do a garden planning meeting for PT…perhaps April? I’d have to shuffle some things, but May would be too late, really.

  5. Buttercup said,

    February 18, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    This is just stunning. I’ll never measure up to your organization.

    Your idea about keeping plant families together is good for rotation, as you say. I have had some difficulty in arranging this in my (relatively) small garden and just keep moving things away from where they grew last year. There is still some possibility of build-up of soilborne plant pathogens. Your system with (I’m sure) meticulous record-keeping ought to allow for at least a 4-year rotation, much better.

    One possible problem though might be that you are essentially creating a monoculture in that block, where an airborne pathogen or insect pest would have an easy time of going from plant to plant. Probably won’t happen unless really bad luck hits, and then the distance between beds wouldn’t be that far anyway.

  6. Emily said,

    February 18, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Buttercup –

    I considered the monoculture angle, and decided that my sanity was worth the risk. It’s just a mess to find one section of one bed that hasn’t had X in 3 years. There’s software that will track that, but I like the simplicity of just moving one bed over each year.

    I’ve also found that insect pests attack by variety. So, last year the Japanese beetles destroyed all my pole beans (in both beds) but they left the bush beans completely alone! I’ve had similar issues with cabbage moths or aphids and different kinds of brassicas – they’ll gnaw the dino kale to a nub and leave the Winderbor. So I usually hedge my bets by having more than one variety of important stuff, and something makes it through.

  7. Buttercup said,

    February 18, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Wow – hope you are keeping records of the pest results. That could be really valuable. We’d all like to know the tougher varieties.

    I’m trying to become a better record-keeper. I keep setting up Excel sheets in the spring and noticing them in my directory in the middle of winter. You make a good model.

  8. ilex said,

    February 19, 2009 at 8:30 am

    I don’t know what I’m more impressed with, the stunning degree of forethought, or all those cool little dots :). I especially like the thought of the least tended, furthest-away garden having the lowest-care plants. Well done.

  9. Emily said,

    February 19, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks, Ilex. The dots are magical, actually. I work in Photoshop, and those dots are actually letters in Symbol font. I’ve worked with the leading and spacing and point size to simulate plants on 3, 6, 9, 12, and 18-inch centers. Then I just drag the text box to the size I want and the number of visible dots expands and contracts to fill automatically. I originally did it with custom brushes, but this is a lot more flexible. Only a few things – the bean poles and sunflowers, for example, are just plain pixels.

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