“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” ~John Lennon
I have struggled so hard to sit down and write this post. The truth is that looking at my semi-ambitious plans for my front garden feels overwhelming since I know that the concept on paper is just possibly out of reach right now in my life with everything I have on my plate right now. That is ok. It is ok to feel overwhelmed, as long as it doesn’t result in inaction. Baby steps can lead to great achievements – especially when one has a vision or great goal that guides each little step forward.
This year, it has been difficult to get physically get out into my garden. My first excuse was my state of advanced pregnancy and more recently my excuse has been the adorably sweet (but needy) infant generally glued to my hip. That hasn’t stopped me from planting seeds and sowing a vision of my hopes and goals for my garden this year.
During nap time, I have managed to spend a little extra time at my desk and have decided to use this time to create a base plan that will not only help me get my gardening fix right now, but will also serve as a blank canvas from season to season. It has all of the permanent existing conditions of my garden such as the dimensions of the planter beds and the shrubs and plants that I cannot or will not move. It also has the perennial plants, such as my variegated lavender, lemon balm and newly planted pineapple sage.
Once completed, I scanned it into my computer and printed out a copy to draw on. This way I can print out copies and not feel too pressured as I move forward with my ideas. I can also print out a fresh copy when the seasons change or if I want to map out each season and how the plants will progress with each other through the year.
In reality, the plants I put in may or may not follow the plan. Knowing myself, I garden much like I cook – with a general recipe (or plan) in mind, but ultimately following nature’s guidance. Plans are great for developing ideas, setting expectations, and communicating one’s vision. At the end of the day, however, it is just a guide to inspire you along the winding path, keep you focused and organized.
A few notes about important considerations when drawing up a simple landscape plan.
- Locate the sun on your plan to help decide where to put taller and shorter plants and to make sure everyone will be happy and get what they need. Remember that taller plants may block the sun from shorter plants during critical parts of the day if you are not careful. Pay attention to what the sun does during the day and make a note of that on your plan.
- Locate the water source.
- Try to draw everything to scale (this plan is drawn at 1/4″=1 foot) and choose plant symbols that are the size the plants will be when mature. This will help you with overcrowding and can also help you visualize companion planting options.
- Companion plant where possible – some plants help each other out – use that to your spacing and pest management advantage! Hopefully you have heard of the three sisters garden (Squash, Beans and Corn) but if you haven’t I hope to talk about it another day in further detail. Meanwhile there are lots of great articles, so google it! There are many other companion combos such as basil and tomatoes, etc.
- Group plants together according to their water requirements (thirsty plants with thirsty plants and drought tolerant plants together.)
- There are many online tools that can help you with deciding when to plant what and who to plant together – this is especially important when growing food. I will try to post some resources here as I come across them.
- Make sure you rotate your plants from year to year. If you planted a tomato in one space make sure to plant something different there the following year from another plant family if possible to avoid perpetuating diseases and depleting the soil of key nutrients.
Right now where I live, it is early spring. I had already planted peas, fava beans, garbanzo beans and some pak choy and lettuces all of which are nicely producing, but these will all be ready when it gets hotter to be replaced by other plants. The good news is that these are mostly nitrogen fixing plants, so I will be able to replace them later in the season with some of my heavier nitrogen feeding plants such as tomatoes.
Meanwhile, we had started the tomatoes and cucumbers indoors in containers and the seedlings are happily growing and getting stronger right on track to be ready to be planted for the warmer weather. There are many other herbs, flowers, fruit and veggies we will be planting, but this year I think I am most excited to be planting a new disease resistant cucumber. Powdery mildew is a HUGE problem in my yard, so we will see how that goes. I also found a really great melon variety that I am hoping my son will be old enough to enjoy by the time it ripens. (He has gotten approval from the pediatrician for solids, so we are right on track!)
This sketch is just a rough draft as my vision is still evolving, but I am so glad to have something on paper and know that my little seedlings all have places to call home!