My attempt to move from Southern California and create a happy and sustainable urban homestead in North Dakota, with some musings on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



Sunday, March 24, 2013

2013 Garden Objectives

Even though we're technically a week into Spring, it seems like actual Spring is a long way off.  There's still 3 feet of snow (or more) on the ground and temperatures aren't forecast to get above the freezing mark for at least the next week. It makes it seem like planting-actual-living-things-in-the-ground time is eons away.

But we're going to start our seeds indoors this week and the itch for Spring will turn into an inevitable yearning that will soon enough enable me to work outside.  In the meantime I thought it would be a good exercise to relay my objectives for the upcoming gardening season.  Why?  Well this IS sort of a blog about gardening.  Plus it will be good thought exercise to consider my plans for the upcoming year and there's the bonus that if I know that my list is publicized, there's a better chance I will feel accountable to my reading public and not procrastinate the year away.

Objective Category 1 - Easy Stuff.  These are things that are either easy to accomplish or that I really need to do anyways:
  • Add some pieces of re-purposed sidewalk concrete to the area underneath our gate.  In Spring and during rainy weather this small space gets really muddy from the people/dog foot traffic (it's our main exit in/out of the yard).  I'm going to dig in some broken pieces of an old sidewalk that we removed last year from the side of the house in order to make this space less muddy. 
  • Plant more perennials.  I love annuals, but they're a lot of work to plant every year and I'd rather have them as extra additions than the main attraction.  We're going to plant some more coneflowers, clematis, monarda (bee balm), milkweed, and sedum. And whatever else strikes my fancy. 
  • Plant at least one more honeyberry shrub.  You need two to get berries and we only have one right now.  I did the math on this one all by myself.
  • Divide hostas and use them for borders for perennial beds.  
  • Lose more lawn space.  Every year I want to take a little more lawn area and convert it to vegetable growing, flowers, or non-lawn space. Less lawn = less weekly mowing work.  If I do this slowly (a few square yards every year), the neighbors are less likely to notice.  I'm sneaky like that.
  • Plant milkweed.  Monarch butterflies are disappearing at a rapid rate, I'm hoping that planting some of their favorite food will help a little.  These are also perennials, so this also ties into one of the objectives above.  
Objective Category 2 - Harder Stuff.  These are things that require some thought or multiple days to finish:
  • Determine if my leaf mulching plan worked to improve soil quality.  Last Fall we raked up and shredded all our leaves, then put them on top of our raised beds, with some chicken wire to hold the leaves in, and some big bricks to weigh it all down.  This was a lot of work last Fall and I'm hoping that this has all broken down into some quality organic matter that we can work into the soil when we plant the raised beds.   
  • Figure out if my blueberry relocation plan worked.  I've been trying to grow blueberries here for three years, despite the warnings from multiple local folks and nursery professionals. The soil is just too alkaline here and simply amending the soil just doesn't work.  My solution?  I dug a big pit (see picture below), filled it with compost and a bunch of peat moss, then brought it up another foot above the ground.  Then I transplanted the six bushes into their new acidic soil wonderland last Fall. This year we find out if it worked.  If not?  We may need to give up the dream of growing blueberries.  That would make me sad.
  • Come up with some kind of definitive crop rotation system.  Right now my haphazard system of "we planted tomatoes here last year so..." method has left something to be desired.  
  • Get a quote and some firm plans on converting our spare garage into a greenhouse.  I've been talking about this for a few years now and I'd really like to have a greenhouse up and running for this winter.  
Objective Category 3 - Big Picture Stuff.  These are things that I need to think about, plan, research, contemplate and probably won't get finished this year, but I at least want to think about them:
  • Stump decisions.  We had a large, old box elder tree removed last Fall in the southwest corner of our yard.  It was very old and rotted out in multiple places.  Since it hung over our driveway and power lines we decided it was best that we take it down on our terms, not wait for a thunderstorm to do it for us.  Now we're trying to decide what to do with that space (and the stump that's sitting there now).  When the tree was there it shaded the garden from about 3:00 onward, preventing a full day of sun from reaching the garden, so I don't think we want to replace it with another large, full tree that will shade the garden.  I like birch trees.  They're a bit more sparsely leafed and not quite as tall as some other trees which would allow more dappled sunlight to reach the garden in the afternoon.  More research and discussion and planning is needed.  
  • Backyard landscaping.  Inside the fenced in backyard on the west side of the yard, there's a distinct lack of landscaping, it's pretty much just the fence and lawn. This is the one place that we'll always have lawn (ask the dogs why), so we need to have some other landscaping to soften the fence and make the yard look a bit better.  Last year we planted some sedum along one side of the fence and one clematis vine on a trellis.  We need to plant a few more clematis vines on some cool trellises and maybe a few happy little shrubs.  Again more research and thought and planning is needed.
That's all I can think of for now.  What about you gentle reader?  What's on your to-do list this year?  Any ideas or solutions to my myriad garden issues? 

5 comments:

Rosemary said...

Wow that is an extensive, well thought out list! Sounds like you're going to have a busy summer :) I was surprised by how many of your smaller tasks we have in common, oh yeah, and all that white stuff on the ground that won't go away even thought it's spring time... We have that too :(

El Gaucho said...

Yes, the snow just won't seem to go away, and until it does, it's hard to envision anything growing outside. We're supposed to get temps just above freezing for the next few days, so maybe we can have some melting.

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

You are going to be a busy guy. So much planning happens when snow is on the ground, but when it isn't, well the plans seem less important. But having a list means business, and they have a way of getting done and checked off a list.

Karen said...

You have this all well thought out. Good for you! That's half the battle, we've found when we have a Plan, we get more done. (Of course, Aaargh was a plan, too, once upon a time, so in the immortal words of Rosanne Rosanneadanna, 'Never mind.")

Let's hope this snowy Spring warms up soon. How's the knee?

El Gaucho said...

Thanks. There's nothing quite like a big imposing list of tasks to get you motivated. Let's melt that snow already!!! I've got stuff to do.

The knee is OK, thanks for asking. Each day it's a little bit better, I may start (very slowly) riding the exercise bike this weekend and building back up some strength.