Garden Dreams

Happy New Year!  Even though I am a few days late….

Have seed catalogs been pouring into your mailboxes these days?  I have been receiving them and all I can say is that I can’t wait to get my garden underway again!

Here is one of my favorite catalogs:

They offer both plants and flowers, which makes for convenient shopping.  This year, Joel said he wants to plant corn and cauliflower, two things absent in last year’s garden.  I have to figure out how to do this.  Corn will take up a fair amount of space – I will probably dedicate one whole 4′ x 8′ bed just to corn, but then, I read that the Native Americans used to plant pumpkins next to corn and/or sunflowers so the vines would have something on which to climb.  Hmmmm……..

Cauliflower used to be a big crop in the little pocket of Northeastern USA where we live at Country Mouse House.  In fact, every Fall, there is a local Cauliflower Festival!  That’s right!  There are rides and treats for little ones as well as flea market-type merchandise for sale.  It is an awesome celebration complete with a Cauliflower Cook-Off, where local chefs prepare and share their Cauliflower Culinary Competence.

I don’t know if our future cauliflower will meet any sort of Festival Qualifications.  I will first have to see if I can even grow it at all.  I tried it once before, with very poor results.  I am more hopeful this year, given our better fencing and critter prevention methods.

What helped me this past year was the Mother Earth News Vegetable Garden Planner.  I highly recommend it.  It has a very comprehensive list of plants, plus you can customize it if you don’t see your particular plant choices.  This is a big help because I often plant more than one variety of the same plant.  I planted 5 types of tomatoes and 3 of eggplant, for example.  The planner helped me keep track of what was where.  It works for any type of garden, and best of all, you can try it for 30 days for FREE!  After that I believe the cost was $25 for a whole year.  I think it is worth the $25, personally.   Here was my very imperfect plan for 2013:

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You can also print out a list which gives a key.  Here was my little back-door kitchen herb garden plan last year:

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If you don’t do your planning this way, then good ol’ fashioned paper and pencil works great.  I have used graph paper in the past because the squares are an especially stupendous tool for the Square Foot Gardening method.  I use a modified variation of this method.  (I don’t mark all the squares in all the beds, and I use 4′ x 8′ beds instead of 4′ x 4′ or smaller.)

Here is my sketch for the coming year:

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Looking closely, I have practiced crop rotation wherever possible, adding the cauliflower in the bed upper left, which is really lower left if you quarter-turn it once to the left.  I left it this direction because I wrote on it across this way.  Does that make any sense whatsoever?  Now, I placed corn and pumpkins upper middle, which is really middle left.  I can’t move the grapevine, hyssop, or mint.  They are all perennial.  But then, I might play with the mint a bit.  It is very hardy and will need to be thinned anyway.  Notice, also, that I have some daffodils and allium growing OUTside the fence, along with sunflowers.  We’ll see how that goes with my birdie friends!  I also plan to plant the castor plants again.  They are annual, so I have to start them anew every single year.  I think it’s worth it, though.

Again, I wish you all a very HAPPY HEALTHY 2014!  Stay warm!



Hello again,

One of my favorite things about gardening is the fresh food we grow.  Nothing compares to fresh-picked.  We put a new vegetable garden together last year, thanks to our neighbor, and now it has grown beyond my expectations.  Here are some highlights:

DSC02139There are six 4′ x 8′ raised garden beds.  Each contains its own unique variety of plants.  That is a hose reaching for the garden, as we installed a drip watering system and my Super-Smart-Hubby put it on a timer.  This way the plants get watered every morning even if we forget.


The arbor in the middle is there to support a grapevine someday.(if it grows big enough)  The petunias are hanging there just because I like them and they are pretty.


Here are some sunflowers and pumpkins.  There is a zucchini in there (I just had to sneak in ONE zucchini – the gift that keeps on giving!)  I planted them all from seed.  I didn’t expect such a vigorous return, but you just never know what will happen in the garden sometimes.  I had to put some supports in for the pumpkin vines because they are already enormous!  The support for the sunflowers is easy to build yourself.  It is made of electrical conduit pipes, rebar, elbow connectors, nylon netting, and zip ties.  The instructions are in Chapter 8, starting on page number 145,  in the book, “Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew.  If I can do it, I think anybody can!

Stay tuned for more vegetable gardening!