April 18, 2014

Planning A Garden

My best birthday present ever (so far) was a plain, shapeless key. Obviously it wasn’t the key that made that present so good, but the door it unlocked: the door to my very own 300m² big, first allotment. I have dreamed of my own garden since my childhood summers, when I cooked up my mum’s chives into a mud soup. There is so much independence and knowledge in gardening. I always admired people who grew their own.
The first few month of being new allotment holders my favourite Englishman and I spent most of our time weeding and clearing. We disposed a half-build greenhouse, weeded a summer worth of unwanted growing’s, discovered and threw out tons of cans (?), broken windows, gas canisters and much more. Then we dug over what we had cleared, found more, threw more out and dug over again. At the end of it all we had half of our allotment clear and ready to be used for proper gardening.

Now we needed a plan. I flicked through what felt like 100 gardening books and found many more tips and advice on the good ol’ interweb. What I mainly learned is that gardening doesn’t have to be an exact science to get great results, so in the end I decided to go with the obvious (to me) steps. It’s our first attempt of gardening anyway and a bit of try and error is expected, so I’d rather keep it manageable then try to do everything right.

Firstly: We created a list of all the vegetables and fruit we would like to grow in our garden. This list went from peas and beans to tomatoes, herbs, potatoes and even our very own sweet corn to apples and pears. With over 50 different plants in our dream garden, we figured it is probably best to start a bit smaller. On the final list we ended up with 15 vegetables and a bunch of different herbs. We decided to stay with vegetable for this first year, before we go into fruits.

Secondly: I looked up the growing conditions of our chosen plants.
  1. I figured out what kind of plant they are: Do they grow as roots, do they grow upwards and need support, do they spread on the ground. For some, like carrots, that was obvious to me, for others not so much.
  2. Then I looked up how much light they need and what soil conditions: Carrots I learned need more lose soil with no stones in it.
  3. I also made notes on whether the seeds go straight into the ground or need to be started inside and when.

Thirdly: I went ahead and measured our plot. I also borrowed a pH metre to see whether our soil is more acid or alkaline.

Finally: Instead of just drawing a sketch, I used an online garden planner to create an outline of our future garden 2014. I used the garden planner from Mr. Fothergills as they offer a 30 days trial. I simply put in the measurements of our garden and then filled the space per drag and drop with vegetable and herbs we plan to grow. One of the major advantages I found with the garden planner is that it gave me an indication of how much space each plant will need something I hadn’t really considered to be honest. Of course I also couldn’t help but make the Rookie mistake of not taking any paths into account at first. Luckily I spotted that soon enough.

Now that the plan is finished we are back to digging and then planting. Hopefully by mid April I can show you some first results. Can’t wait to get this growing!

Have you ever planned a garden? Do you have any tips or recommendations?


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