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The Diary of a Novice Gardener: Survey the Spot

We have lived in this house for three years now and still no garden. This year, I am determined to take the time to start one. My friends and family, who are experts on the subject, have clammed up forcing me to do my own research. First things first…find a place. That was easy. The minute we saw the house, I claimed the north east side of the yard for my own. The area gets the most sun during the summer and seemed like the natural place to plant a garden.

Next, I have to figure out what goes where. I have made several sketches of the garden, however, every time I compare it with the actual space, I stand there dumbfounded. I know I want to plant a “companion” garden utilizing containers. The theory of companion vegetable gardens is allowing Mother Nature to do what she does best. Pairing vegetables that grow deep in the soil with those that require a shallow bed, blending in plants that ward off pesty insects with those that invite creatures that are beneficial to producing a successful garden. We have plenty of birds, but I have not seen frogs since the first year we moved in. But, if I need frogs, birds and snakes so be it. We will create a nice little village for them.

Working with the sun, I will need to plant from North to south ensuring that every plant gets it’s share of the sun. Starting along the back fence, I have raspberries and blackberries. Originally, I planned on raising blueberries, but they are not as resilient and tend to be a bit more finicky than their cousins. (A tip when planting blueberries: plant two or more different varieties.) I will use sunflowers to separate the two and garlic as a border. Sunflowers attract bees and garlic is supposed to fight of bugs.

They say tomatoes are best when planted with basil, basil being a natural ward against pests. I plan on growing my tomatoes in containers with basil and parsley nestled right in the pot. Moving forward along the fence line with rows running East to West, I have peas, pots of tomatoes and potatoes. The next section will have green beans along the fence, squash (summer and zucchini) and cans of mint (again, to ward off the bad bugs) all divided by marigolds and Nasturtiums.

Continuing on along the fence, I have cucumbers in pots with a trellis, onions, thyme and carrots. Then peppers, cabbage, dill, lettuce and celery. Finally my herb garden consisting of basil, oregano, parsley, Nasturtium, asparagus, cilantro and marigolds and chives around the base of fruit trees. Flowers, Nasturtium and Marigolds thickly dotting where they will fit and strawberry plants as ground cover out front along the entry. I think that about covers it.

The fun part is tilling the earth. I need about 12 inches depth. The ground is clay and will become a nice home for my seedlings once some nutrient rich soil is mixed in and the earthworms move in. I have a ton of work ahead of me. I know in the end it will all be worth it.