2013 Master Plan: The Patio Quadrant

Over the weekend we put the finishing touches on this planting season's master plan. To do this, we had to spread out the old drawings so we could keep an eye on our crop rotation, since we don't want to grow plants of the same family in the same areas again. Although it takes some effort to take into account sunlight, rotation, succession planting, and seasonal plantings, I found this to be an easier task this year than it was last year. The garden feels "real" to us now, after spending a full season living and working in it. It's a physical memory rather than just a dream on paper, and that made it much easier to find a home for everything. We also were able to tweak the amounts of food we're going to plant based on last year's yields, so that's another example of how all that research is paying off to make life easier this time around.

In fact, it was so much easier to visualize that we cut the scale of our drawing in half — this year a square is 1 foot, not 6 inches. That should make it easier to cart just the one drawing around the garden, instead of the four separate ones we had last year.

Without further ado, the plans for the patio quadrant:

This is by far the easiest to plan, because much of the beds are taken up by perennials that we put in last year. (These include rhubarb, lavender, and roses in the shaded sections at the bottom, which is closest to the house. You can check out the detailed plan from 2012 to compare.) There is also a section full of garlic that went in last fall, and that will convert to a fall planting of greens and/or carrots later in the season.

To the left you see twice as many strawberries as last year. We're ordering 25 plants of Honeoye to add to the bed of Tribute plants we started last year. The Honeoyes are June-bearing, which means we will have to pick off all the blossoms and forego those strawberries this year. Our ever-bearing Tributes from last year are fully available for eating, though, so we should have strawberries to snack on throughout the summer. Eventually the entire left side of the patio will be a strawberry bed.

But for now, the other half of the left side is for a trellis of cucumbers (half slicing, half pickling) on the north side, and some annual herbs in front, where they will not be shaded by that trellis. These include celery, borage, and calendula. This is half as much borage and cukes as last year, because we had much more than we needed (and a break from our adventures in extreme pickling might be nice).

Across the top we have a zucchini plant in each corner. These 4x4 square areas in the corners are a great place for a sprawling zucchini plants, which will have room to ramble, and we'll be able to reach them easily for harvest. Smaller plants in the very middle of those corners are sometime hard to reach, so this plan will hopefully take that annoyance off the table. Also along the top are heat-loving sweet potatoes and okra. We are sticking with the same amount of sweet potatoes as last year, but have decided to go with twice as much okra. We had trouble harvesting enough okra at one time to cook, so hopefully doubling our plants will solve that problem this summer. 

Finally, down the right hand side (above the garlic), we have the rest of our annual herbs, several of which are planted in succession: dill, cilantro, basil, parsley, and chamomile. We will have only flat parsley this year, as curly didn't do very well, and Kirk doesn't really like it as much. We also have less chamomile planned, since we had a lot last year. I'm expecting some volunteers to pop up where they were planted last year, and I may transplant those into the cutting beds or even the perennial border to hedge our bets if that space doesn't seem to be enough.


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