Starting to Plan my Garden [NOT 6/1/21]

image of small veggie garden
not my actual garden

Hi friends! Do you plant a garden? Do you have plants that come back every year so you don’t have to plant anything?

Do you plant any fruits or herbs or vegetables? In my old condo, I just planted herbs because I had nowhere to plant and was limited to a few planters.

Now that I’m entering year 3 in my house, I’m super excited about the summer vegetable garden. I had 2 large planters (the faux wine barrel planters from Costco) from summer #1 here, and I added a third planter and a 4×8 ft raised bed.

In the spring I had lettuce and kale and spinach, and that was so awesome. I love fresh lettuce and homegrown spinach is soooo much better than store-bought. I just used the planters and thanks to the height, it was protected from bunnies nibbling on it. Once it got too warm for those plants, I just swapped them out for some herbs and cherry tomatoes.

In the summer, I had great results with my sweet peppers and my cherry tomatoess. So many peppers, it made me so damn happy! I tried zucchini but got a whopping 2 zucchinis before it got some fungus or something and the plants died. I dunno. I don’t love zucchini so I probably won’t try that again.

I think I’m going to add another 4×8 ft raised bed this summer. There’s a relatively flat area on the side of the house that gets decent sun and the old lady who had my house before me had those metal clothesline hanger rods in the ground there. I think I can run trellis or chicken wire or something across those 2 rods and use it to support cucumbers or maybe pole beans.

Anybody have luck with pole beans? Or bush beans? What kind of yield did you get? I don’t want to have to plant a fuckton of plants but I also don’t want to get like 9 bean pods. Some neighbors tried snap peas last year and the yield was tiny before it got too hot for them.

Also I’m trying to determine what else to plant in that hypothetical new raised bed. I suspect I will just add more peppers and tomatoes. I don’t like eggplant, chard, or beets, not sure what else will give decent yield for the space.



    • Oh, I think it’s a nice thing to think about that after we have destroyed ourselves as a species, nature will continue on and undo all the chaos we have sown, while maybe amplifying some of the nicer sowing some of us managed.

      • k2b! Hello!!!

        Yeah I thought about rescheduling it given the day’s events. But like… also I need something good to think about today that isn’t horrible. 

        Also gardening is very soothing to me. Growing my own lettuce, kale, and spinach this spring during early stages of covid lifestyles actually really helped my anxiety and stress. Like “oh, it’s not horrible if I can’t go to the store as often, I can walk 10 feet and pick some fresh greens to add to my dinner” etc etc. 

        • Hullo!  Signing in got a bit impossible for a while but I got fixored.
          I think it would be very nice to be able to do some gardening, but that would involve also having to take care of it consistently and I would be terrible at that.

          • Hey, k2b, nice to see you here! 
            I have the same issue with gardens. They’re lovely and useful and all those wonderful things… and I am terrible at them. The 2 times I have actually managed to plant things, I tried for things that can manage under a sort of benign neglect. I harvested a bunch of green beans, a couple green cabbages, some lettuce, and a ton of parsley and chives the one year. The other time, I didn’t get much at all except tomatoes and a couple peppers. 

            • Totally! I neglect the hell out of plants. Squash is good for that though; it doesn’t seem to mind neglect.
              I keep some basil inside too, plus scallions in my kitchen window – I just planted grocery store scallions and I harvest the tips when I want and they just keep growing. 

      • I’m on the fence with tomato varieties.

        I love the bigger ones because they’re meatier, but I’m also impatient as fuck and I love how fast cherry tomatoes ripen up. 

        What are your thoughts? I’m also tempted to grow like some romas maybe because they’d be bigger than cherry tomatoes but I presume not as slow to ripen as beefsteaks/other biguns.

        • Why not both?  You can plant much more densely than what is typically suggested, provided you grow them vertically.  We plant our tomatoes (once the seeds have grown to strong plants) roughly 8-10″ apart, and stagger them so we can cram more in there.  Then we build little tomato condos, which are just basic wooden structures with posts and crossbeams and tie the plants to the condos using ripped up t-shirts (no string or rope because that will cut into the plants) so they can grow straight up.  We get great yields.

        • Go by ripening times? Like, plant the earliest of the cherry tomatoes, then a larger or roma-type one that’s projected to ripen 10 days later, then the really big, juicy ones 10 days after that. If you stagger the times, you’ll be able to keep up with the output, too (in theory!) 

          • Oh friend, I eat a fuckton of tomatoes in the summer, I think I can keep up!

            I did an Early Girl plant last summer and then cherry tomatoes and she did really well and had some nice big tomatoes at first. Then I had some issues with storm damage and aphids and whatnot (mostly because I’d never tried to grow tomatoes before and didn’t know what the fuck to do to prevent/minimize problems. Google helped me learn a lot last summer!).

  1. If you have some space to put a big trellis, try two grape trees. They take a year or two to start yielding, but if you have sunlight and good care you will be rewarded. I’ve alternated fertilizers some years and notice the changes in flavor too.
    I got luck with sugar snap peas as well. They love a lot of light too.
    The best yield I got over summer was Thai Chilli peppers, planting seeds in March in indoor pods and moved them to beds in April once the last thaw happens.

    • Nice!!! My neighbor has a lovely trellis with canadice grapes and they said they’ve never actually eaten grapes from it. 

      It’s not that the plants don’t produce a lot of bunches of grapes. It’s just that the birds pick them clean before they’re ripe enough for people to consume. 

      Smart birds!

  2. @brightersideoflife Have you tried growing watermelons? I’ve mentioned here and on GT how much I love watermelon. I buy 2 a week at the farmers market during the summer. I was considering trying to grow them but I don’t know how much room they need or how difficult they are to grow. Or even what variety. 

        • I did accidentally grow a butternut squash this fall. The community garden a few streets over had thinned out seedlings for free and one was marked “ornamental squash, will spread out a lot” and I was like oh I bet it’s one of those cool knobby ones that I can use for fall decor. So I just tossed it into the grown near the irises that had long-since bloomed and figured if it grew, it grew.

          Then it started growing the actual squashes and I was like any day now, they’re gonna be those cool fun weird ornamental squashes. Maybe I can make a bird house. Etc etc. Any day now. Huh that looks just like a butternut squash. Any day now it will change. Any. Day. Well fuck me it’s a butternut squash!

          So maybe I throw a watermelon plant in that spot this summer and see what happens? The squash didn’t crowd out and kill any of my other flowers. 

    • Is that a rule from the HOA or something? I know some areas are also really pissypants about veggies/fruits being grown in places visible from the street (gasp! how dare we looks like poors who need to grow our own food!!!), but luckily my area is like fuck you Imma grow tomatoes wherever I want, Susan. 

      • Yes, I’m in a condo on the ground floor so I have an actual little garden plot. We could grow anything in a pot, but when i moved in it was “no fruits, vegetables, or trees.” 

    • …so kind of the reverse of an allotment, then?

      […I always forget what they’re called in the states…I want to say “p-patch” but I think thatight just be what they call them in seattle…but I think on those you’re not allowed to plant anything that doesn’t produce something you can eat]

  3. I am a garden widower, my wife chooses the garden over me & the kids for that matter.  Yet, I’m stupid enough to build her a greenhouse so I will probably never see her again!  When I run out of Bird Droppings, I may have to do “what crazy shit is she doing now out there?”  I just connected a water line, next is electricity & we are still 3 weeks from the greenhouse panel delivery!   Help!!!!

    • Ohhh I’m so jealous!

      The only thing preventing me from really having big unreachable plans is that with the orientation of my house and my neighbor’s tree line, there isn’t a spot in my back yard where I have the space that gets more than 6 hours of sun. Once the trees get all their leaves grown in, it might actually get closer to 4 hours of direct sun. 

  4. This will be our fifth season with this particular garden, so the ground is very well conditioned.  Last year’s yield was totally bonkers, thanks to a couple of years’ worth of composted horse manure from our neighbors down the street.  Anyway, this years’ garden will be pretty different than previous years because Mrs. Butcher’s tastes have changed.  There will be the staples of tomatoes (red, and orange, but no more cherries), peppers (mostly green chiles and adding jalapenos, and phasing out the sweets), and cucumbers for pickling.  There are also leftover seeds for (pauses to collect oneself) eggplant.  We keep perennial herbs like thyme and oregano.  We also plant basil each year, parsley (parsley actually goes for two years) and dill.  We usually grow greens in flower beds because we cut them with scissors before they grow out of the microgreen stage–and then they grow back again.  We’ll be adding more greens this year.  Also, more onions and garlic.  The asparagus bed is perennial and had been producing for about three years now.  I’m also going to experiment with strawberry plants in a separate bed and see if I can get some decent yields out of them in a year or two.  I’m sure there’s more but that’s what comes to mind at the moment.
    I recommend Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine.  The quality of their seed stock is far superior to anything you’ll find in the garden centers.  We get their catalog each year the week after Christmas and it’s always a big day when it arrives.

  5. My mom was an amazing gardener. Unfortunately I didn’t inherit her green thumb. But I try. This past summer was my biggest and most successful garden yet. I have herbs- basil, rosemary, flat leaf & Italian parsley, chives, green onions, garlic chives, oregano, and chile pequin peppers. Veggies I have rainbow chard, lots and lots of tomatoes, and radishes, and accidentally grew spaghetti squashes and a little pumpkin from the compost.  I had failed attempts at okra and onions. 

  6. I don’t get enough sun for serious veggies, but I built a raised bed that I mounted on saw horses to keep it safe from rabbits, and planted salad greens. That worked well and we got a lot until the heat hit and everything bolted.
    I have aspirations of laying down some concrete and building more serious raised beds for herbs out of brick, but I’ll see if I get ambitious enough to pull it off.

    • I think they wanted to feel like martyrs for Trump and then once the actual law enforcement back up showed up they were like “welp gonna go post on Parler about my boner for Trump” and need my coffee from Dunkin Donuts and my Jesus chicken from Chick-fil-A”

      Capitol Police seemed chummy chummy with them but the Virginia state troopers and National Guard didn’t seem so complacent with the coup attempt

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