Saturday, February 4, 2017

My 2017 Garden Plan

            After 11 years of renting, we finally bought a house in 2010.  It’s not that we didn’t want to buy before that, it’s just that we couldn’t afford it.  By the end, we had four kids in a two-bedroom rental, which became a one-bedroom rental after we closed off our room because of mold.  At that point, I was sleeping upstairs in the boys’ bunk bed with the baby, while my husband and three other boys slept downstairs on the living room floor next to the moldy backroom.  (I could smell the mold and knew it was making us sick, but the owners wouldn’t believe me.) 
            And we slept that way for nine depressing months until we found this home (which has its own set of problems, but at least there’s plenty of room to spread out and no mold).  When we moved in during the fall, I immediately began making my plans for a garden the next year.  I had been eagerly studying gardening for all the years we rented, unable to put it into practice except for a few potted vegetables.  But now was my chance to go wild.
            And I did!
            And for the past 6 years, I have been learning about gardening through the trial-and-error of doing it.  And it’s way different than just reading about it. 

            Yes, there is a lot of frustration when things don’t go right – such as . . .

            . . . dealing with a neighbor’s moldy garage that is feet from my garden and that blows all over us all summer, leading to a deep depression over the years when it seemed like everything was going wrong.  We just left a moldy place, only to find ourselves surrounded by mold again, and it isn’t even our mold!  See the garage right there, just feet from my garden  (This is a picture of what my garden looks like right now.  No snow.  Sad.) . . .


            . . . and a giant dead tree from my neighbor’s yard (the one with the moldy garage) falling on my garden in 2015 at the height of summer and ruining everything but the tomatoes.  And I was so discouraged that I didn't bother to try to salvage the few other plants that it didn't hit. . . .

            (Did you notice the newly-assembled cedar garden beds that we had just made a few days before and neatly stacked in a pile until we could place them around?  Did you notice the creepy scarecrows that my husband made, the ones that look like zombies emerging from the woods?  They scare nothing but me.  I can't tell you how many times I will be gardening out there, nice and quiet, minding my own business, when I get the sense that someone has been standing there watching me because I can just barely see their legs with my peripheral vision.  And it'll startle me and my heart will skip a beat and I'll look up to see "zombie scarecrow" standing over me.  Gets me all the time.
            You know what?  I'm surprised that I haven't thought about this until now, but I should name them.  I mean, they've been with me a long time, watching me as I garden.  There's actually three of them.  The third one likes to jump out at me when I'm in the blueberry bed.  And so I'm going to give them first names: Bobby, Johnny, and Tommy.  Bobbie Zombie Scarecrow in the blueberries, Johnny Zombie Scarecrow at the back of the garden by the neighbor's garage, and Tommy Zombie Scarecrow in the last picture there wearing the superman shirt.  There!  Now that we're on a first-name-basis maybe they'll be nicer.)   

            . . . and deer eating everything before I put a fence up (and then deer jumping the fence and eating the beans even after I finally did put one up).  This is them eating my dormant roses last year.  They will eat anything. . . .

(Yeah, that's right . . . I see you!)

            . . . and squirrels climbing every barrier and rifling through everything in the garden (and then one turning and jumping at me when I cornered it while trying to shoo it out, scaring the daylights out of me) . . .


            . . . and a raccoon getting in one night and walking through the onion bed, knocking them all down when they were just the size of large marbles . . .
            . . . and pill-bugs nibbling down every bean plant from my first round of planting last year . . .
            . . . and then there’s early blight, late blight, and verticillium wilt ruining the tomatoes.  The last one kills them basically overnight.  You walk outside one morning and there’s your previously-healthy-looking tomatoes “knocked over” and laying on the ground, looking like they decided in the middle of the night that life was just too exhausting to go on. . . .
            . . . and . . . well, I could go on and on.  Just one season of gardening will give you many stories of your own.

            But despite the frustrations that inevitably come with gardening, there is nothing quite like the delights that come with it, too.  Even the physical work that it takes to tend the garden is enjoyable.  Some might consider it exhausting and depressing work, but I consider it refreshing and recharging.  Even the weeding. 
            In summer, my favorite place to be is in the garden with my headphones on, pulling weeds and checking progress and tying up plants as I listen to some fun music while my husband gardens next to me and the kids are playing ball.  There’s no better way to spend a summer’s day.

            I even love the planning and the adjustments that need to be made.  Every year as I learn something new about what worked and what didn’t, I tweak my plans for the next year.  It’s like one big puzzle, a giant brain-teaser.  And then last year, I offered to let a wonderful neighbor use some of our garden beds since she can’t garden in her yard because of the shade and black walnut tree.  So I had to readjust my plans again.
            (Making sure there were no black walnut trees on the property was on our list when we were house-hunting.  We had two in the backyard of the rental.  Not only do they kill veggies, but I have never known a messier tree.  It was always leaving little “twigs” every year and pieces of squirrel-eaten walnuts in the ground that twist your ankle when you step on them and cut your knee when you fall on them.  And you can never walk barefoot in the yard.  And black walnuts stain everything.  And they smell bad.  Except for their valuable wood, they are terrible, terrible trees.)

            2017 will be our second year co-gardening.  And this is what the plan looks like so far:

            I know it’s a lot to look at, but I will explain it more and give some notes on it. 


Rotation Schedule:
The way I organized the garden is like this:
            There is one row of 5 beds that I rotate with itself, to the far right in the picture.  It is the shadiest part of the garden because our garage blocks the morning sun and because there is a giant silver maple tree overhead.  (The tree is in our neighbor’s yard.  It’s so big that it would cost $3,000 to take down.  These are good neighbors, the ones we share a driveway with, not the one with the moldy garage behind us.  Oh, it just makes me so mad!  Don’t get me started.)
            There are two permanent beds of day-neutral strawberries (Tri-star and Seascape). 
            And then the rest of the beds – 14 of them – rotate in an L-shaped pattern.  The reason I did it this way is because I wanted to follow a concept that God Himself presented in the Bible: letting the land rest every 7th year.  That is why there are two compost beds in that 14-bed rotation.  Every seven years, it gets fed with compost and takes a rest from production.  I just feel that this is more honoring to God and that He will (hopefully) bless it with better over-all health and harvest.  It’s still a work in progress.  And not every bed has been composted yet, so some crops aren’t producing their best yet.  Maybe in time, as all beds get fed, it will produce better and better. 
            And since there are only 5 beds in the shadier column (right side in the picture), I will have to have a compost bed every 5th year, instead of 7th.  But that's okay.

The Plants I Rotate (zone 5):
            Everyone has their own way to rotate.  And there’s no great, supreme wisdom behind why I rotate the way I do.  But this is what I do and why.  Of course, it won’t be perfect and there will be things that others tsk-tsk about, but it’s working okay for me so far.  And if it doesn’t work, I chalk it up to learning and then adjust next year.  Every year looks a little different. 
            In the picture, I could only write the main plants that I put in the bed.   But in this list, I will include some of the minor plants that I intend to plant with those main ones.  

            For the shadier 5-bed plan (far right column in the picture):
Year 1:  Compost

Year 2:  Pole Beans and lettuce  (The beans help feed the lettuce.)

Year 3:  Mix of Kale, Chard, Beets, Radishes, and/or Carrots     

Year 4:  Pole Beans and Spinach  (I am letting the neighbor use this bed this year, so she might include a few different plants.)  

Year 5:  Snap Peas (maybe follow peas with some kind of leafy green when they're done) 

Then back to compost. 

            For the 14-bed rotation:
Year 1:  Compost  (I’ll start with the second compost bed in the second row, sandwiched between another compost bed and pole beans.)                     

Year 2:  Cucumbers (half-bed for me, half for neighbor).  I might also try some cabbage, dill and/or bush beans.  (Cabbage has never worked for me, but I'll keep trying.)

Year 3:  Tomatoes and Sweet Peppers and maybe basil/parsley.

Year 4:  Neighbor’s Peas/Beans and whatever else she includes (last year it was radishes and basil, the radishes did good but the basil did not)

Year 5:  Neighbor’s Zucchini and Patty Pan (last year she included some carrots)

Year 6:  Neighbor’s Tomatoes and Sweet Peppers

Year 7:  Spring Garlic (half-bed for me, half for neighbor.  She is including onions and maybe carrots.  I call it “Spring Garlic” because this is where it will pop up in early spring since it was planted here in late fall the year before, after I cleaned out the Tomatoes and Peppers.)

Year 8:  Compost  (I might try to throw some dill seeds in the compost and see what comes up.)

Year 9:  Tomatoes and Sweet Peppers and maybe basil/parsley

Year 10:  Zucchini, Patty Pan, 1 Hot Pepper, and maybe a Melon
Year 11:  Some Shelling Peas (for my one son who loves them), carrots, and maybe beets or radishes

Year 12:  Tomatoes and Sweet Peppers and basil/parsley (or since this bed is in a shadier spot this year, I might just try 1 hot pepper, basil, parsley, dill, beets, radishes and bush beans)

Year 13:  Snap Peas, Squash, and maybe a Melon  
           (Peas will be gone by the time the rest takes over.  Melons have never worked for me, but I try a couple every year.  The only time I successfully grew a melon – Cantaloupe – was in a pot on a sunny driveway.  All that heat and sun grew a juicy, wonderful-smelling melon.  Just one.  But it was one beautiful melon.)

Year 14: Onions and Cabbage

(Too confusing?  Just look at half the list, years 1-7 or 8-14 and use that as a base, adjusting for your garden and what you like to plant.  You could do other root crops where the garlic is.  To boil it down, my rotation for years 1-7 is roughly Compost, Cucumber, Tomatoes/Pepper, Legumes, Zucchini, Tomatoes/Pepper, Onion/Garlic.  For years 8-14, it's Compost, Tomatoes/Pepper, Squash, Peas/Roots, Tomatoes/Peppers (or herbs), Squash/Peas, Onion/Cabbage.)


Random Notes (I will also include all this in individual posts on each plant):

1.  If you plant a plant somewhere, don’t put the same plant (or a related plant) in that same spot for the following two years.  Keep at least two years between planting a vegetable in the same spot.  So this requires a minimum of a 3-year rotation plan.   
            Put root crops before the compost (or legumes), and the compost (or legumes) before a heavier feeder, like tomatoes or zucchini or cucumbers.  The abundance of nutrients from the compost (or the extra nitrogen that the legumes leave in the soil) should go to heavy-feeders the following year, not to root crops.  It will feed the tops of the root crops, causing lots of green growth but little roots.  (This is why my garlic and onions are last in the rotation, right before compost.) 
            So for a simple 3-year-rotation, I’d go compost (or legumes) then heavy feeders then roots/leafy greens. 
            Or here is a 4-year rotation idea:  legumes followed by heavy-feeding fruiting crops followed by green, leafy plants followed by root crops.  (And if my legumes included peas, once the peas were done, I would compost it and let it rest.  That way, you get legumes and compost the same year in the same bed.  Just an idea.)
            Or add a compost bed and try this 5-year rotation:  Compost, heavy-feeders, legumes, leafy greens, root crops.
            There are lots of different possibilities.  And I seem to try something new every year.

2.  You’ll notice that I intersperse compost and legumes between my heavier feeders.  I try not to have more than two fruiting crops in a row so that I don’t deplete the soil too much. 

3.  What I like to do when planning a rotation is to first pick the main crops that will go in a bed, like tomatoes/peppers or zucchini or onions.  And then I research rotation tips to put those main crops in order. 
            Then I look at my minor crops, the ones I will only grow a little of (such as radishes, beets, lettuce, hot peppers, cabbage, etc.) and I figure out which major crop they can be “companion planted” with.  (Look up lists of these on-line.)  I try to keep a bed at one major crop, one or two minor crops, and maybe an occasional herb.  It never worked when I got too creative and tried to combine too many different crops in a bed. 
            But I have to make sure that these minor crops are okay in the rotation too, that they won’t hurt the following crops or be hurt by the previous ones.  Sometimes it takes a little juggling to get a plan that works.  I change mine a little every year.

4.  I could plant other crops after my spring ones (garlic, peas, beets, radishes) are done and pulled, but I’m usually too tired to think about it at that point.  So I often leave the bed empty.  But this year, I might try to put in some bush beans or fall cabbage or lettuce or something like that.  I haven’t decided yet.

5.  Tomatoes:  I know 12 is a lot of tomato plants, but I have shade half the day.  So I grow this much to get the most I can in less-than-ideal conditions.  And since I have so much shade, I generally stick to smaller varieties (less than a pound) and ones that ripen in 70 days or so.  The bigger, slower ones (like the wonderful, large heirlooms) don’t get enough sun or heat to grow well.  (Sniffle, sniffle, sigh deeply, wipe a tear.) 
            If I am careful with my selection, I get enough tomatoes to eat a bunch fresh, give some away, and dehydrate or freeze some for winter.  (Everyone should grow enough in their garden to share something with the neighbors.  It makes life better.) 
            I haven’t yet canned tomatoes, but maybe someday.  But for now, dehydrated or frozen ones work good in soups.  I slice them about a quarter-inch thick and dehydrate them in a dehydrator until crispy, no sign of water left.  And then to use them, I rehydrate them in bowl of water and blend them in a processor with the soaking water to make a tomato “sauce” to add to soups or chili.  Or I just chop up the dry slices with kitchen shears and add them right to the soup.    
            [FYI:  I started my tomatoes really early last year, Feb 28 in zone 5 – about 9-10 weeks before our last frost.  And I had huge transplants by planting time, early-mid May.  (Near the end, when they started to look really tired of being in pots, I made sure to give them a little natural fertilizer and to water them with compost tea.  Just a little so they didn’t go crazy with their growth while still in pots, but enough to keep them from languishing.) 
            When I planted them, I planted them really deep and buried most of the plant, about 8-10 inches of stem (with a banana peel and Epsom salts in the hole and a sprinkle of Tomato-tone on top of the soil). 
            When you plant tomatoes, do not dig a hole straight down into the colder depths of the soil.  Dig a trench and lay the tomato plant into it carefully so that the stem runs horizontally under the ground, about 4-6 inches deep.  This way, the buried stem can still grow lots of roots, but it also stays close to the warmer soil on top.  And don’t worry if the above-ground part of the plant is angled; it will straighten itself out. 
            Last year, I picked tomatoes 2 weeks earlier than I ever did, on July 15.  The first-to-ripen varieties – for the second year in a row - were Red Currant, Summer Snack, and Early Treat.  And the first to show signs of baby tomatoes forming was Lunchmate.]
            Note:  Do not compost store-bought tomatoes (and I don’t do store-bought peppers or potatoes either).  Store-bought tomatoes can carry blight which could infect your garden. 

6.  Peppers:  This year, I decided to not grow them from seed.  I will buy transplants from our nearby garden store.  A benefit of co-gardening is that I get to compare what my neighbor does with what I do and see how it all grows under the same conditions (with some variation in the amount of light).  I grew a lot of peppers from seed last year and I bought a couple large transplants.  And I got basically no peppers.  (It didn’t help that stupid pill-bugs lived under the aluminum foil that I put around the pepper plants to reflect more light, and they came out at night to munch on everything.  And I thought I was being so clever, too!) 
            But my neighbor bought small transplants and she grew some beautiful peppers. 
            So I will stick to small, nursery-grown transplants this year.  It’s not worth the effort it takes to grow peppers from seed for 8 weeks or so, only to have them refuse to produce.  (I read somewhere that peppers need consistent, perfect growing conditions while they are very young or else their growth/production will suffer.  And since I cannot provide them with enough consistent heat and light in a tiny greenhouse with four grow lights in our cold dining room, I will just buy them from those who can give them the best start.) 

7.  Beans:  I recommend Pole Beans over Bush Beans.  You only get one or two harvests of bush beans before they die down, but pole beans produce all summer.  To the point where you are going to get sick of beans.  They just take a little longer to produce.  
            FYI:  Only plant as many beans as you want to be a slave to all summer.  Because you must pick beans every other day at least.  And if you go on vacation, you have to beg someone to do it for you.  If the seeds grow too big, they will think that they did their job of reproducing and they’ll stop growing more beans.  So get out there and keep picking . . . and they will keep producing. 
            And producing and producing and producing.  Did I mention that you’ll get sick of them?  One day in late summer, you’ll look outside and think to yourself, I can’t go out there and pick one more bean today!  And then, when you do get out there to thoroughly pick them, you’ll walk away for two minutes to check on a different plant and when you come back through and glance at the beans, you’ll see a handful of huge ones that you missed.  (Or ones that just grew that big in the two minutes you weren’t looking.)  I kid you not!  My neighbor can testify to this, too.
            Another difference is that bush beans hurt your back, but you can pick pole beans while standing up.  You just have to give them support to grow up.  (My father-in-law resisted planting pole beans for a long time.  He’d only known bush beans for decades.  But he finally tried pole beans one year and said, “I’ll never go back to bush beans again.  What was I thinking all those years!?!  Pole beans are so much better!”  Although I will say that bush beans are good for filling in empty spaces or for planting when spring crops are finished and pulled.) 
            For bean supports, I push two 5-foot-tall green fence posts into the ground, 7 feet apart, and run 4-foot-tall metal garden-fence between them (attaching it with zip-ties), with holes big enough for my hand to get through to get the beans on the other side. 
            Last year, I put two such “fence lines” in two different beds, for a total of four 7-foot-long fence supports for beans to grow up.  And although this was in the shadiest part of my garden (no more than 3 hours of sun), I still got enough beans to eat them fresh all summer, to freeze a bunch, and to give a ton away.  Even my neighbor across the street got sick of beans.  (That’s why I gave the second shady “bean bed” to my co-gardener this year.  No one needs that many beans.) 

            [FYI:  Bush beans are rude and they will smother things.  So don’t interplant them with small crops or delicate, leafy things like lettuce.  Bush beans will swallow them whole.  I found that bush beans are best when they are all by themselves.  They’re a bit anti-social that way.  But pole beans that are trained to climb up supports can tolerate having smaller crops near them.]

8.  Peas:  We like snap peas over shelling peas, so I mostly plant those.  Shelling peas will never make it to the kitchen anyway, so I don’t even bother trying to grow enough of those for a meal.  They are just for snacking on straight out of the garden. 
            But the snap peas give you more for your money, time, and space because you can eat the whole pod.  It’s like getting twice as much vegetable matter per plant.  (Just don’t let them get overgrown.  They get tough and lost their sweetness.)  I only plant Super Sugar Snap.  They produce the best for me, way better than Sugar Snap.  (That Super makes a big difference.) 
            I don’t have a favorite shelling pea yet, but I do plant a small amount of those for my 10-year-son who likes to sit on the yard-swing with a pile of peas in his lap, eating them straight from the pod for an hour.  I couldn’t bear to deny him that delight, so we do plant some shelling peas.
            But, unfortunately, the only good place for them in the rotation is following the snap peas that I grew the previous year.  I don’t like to plant the same plant in the same spot two years in row, but I don’t have much choice right now.  So I will take my chances.  Besides, I am just planting a small amount of shelling peas (and I will plant them in a different spot in the bed from where the snap peas were planted).  And the snap peas from the year before will have finished in early summer and the bed would have been taken over by squash for the rest of the season.  So I think that would give the bed some time to clear out of “pea problems” before the shelling peas go in the following year. 
            One other note on peas:  The more sun they get, the better.  My neighbor’s peas had a lot of sun, and the plants were much shorter and stronger than mine.  When they get less light, the plants grow a lot lankier as the plant reaches for the light, so they get really floppy and messy. 
            And be thoughtful about where you plant them in a bed because they will lean toward the sun and the whole floppy mess will fall over in the direction of where the most sunlight is.  This may lead to them smothering small plants in front or falling over into the paths.  So put some sort of support around them to contain them so the whole mess doesn’t gobble up more space than you want to give it. 
            And if you plant them with crops like squash that will grow up and take over the bed after you pull the peas, remember to plant the baby squash on the sunnier side and the peas in the back, or else the tall peas will shade the squash too much for too long.
            This year in one of the beds, I will put peas in half of it and root crops in the sunnier part of it so that the root crops (radish, carrots, beets) don’t get shaded.  It might not be the best to plant peas by root crops, but I will leave a little space between them.  And the root crops don’t take long to grow.  So I hope they will be out before the peas really get going.  By summer, I’ll know if it was a huge mistake or not.  I have never had luck with beets or radishes anyway, so I don’t have my hopes set on them or have much expectation for them to begin with.  This is a “let’s just throw caution to the wind and see what happens” plan.  A plan I love to utilize often.  I’m a bit of a “renegade gardener” that way.         

9.  Squash/Cucumbers:  For me, Patty Pan does better than zucchini.  It grows better in the shadier garden.  And I think it works great in zucchini bread.  It’s a bit sweeter than zucchini, not as squashy.  (If you’re not a huge fan of squash then you know what “squashy” means.)  And patty pan vines are smaller and more vine-y than the bushier, huge zucchini plants.  They grow longer but take up less space overall.  But I still grow both so that I have a bunch to shred and freeze for zucchini/patty pan bread all winter.  And my neighbor made minestrone soup a few days ago using patty pan that she cut-up into chunks and froze . . . and it worked beautifully.  She didn’t even peel it, but I thought it added some lovely texture. 
            Now as for yellow squash, I never plant it.  I hate it.  It’s too squashy.  Once, when I was a kid, my mom plopped a giant, oozing mass of over-cooked yellow goo onto my plate.  (Think of the green blob that oozed off of Lane Meyer’s plate in Better Off Dead.  Yeah . . . it’s like that, without the “raisins.”)  And when I asked her what it was, she said “Yellow squash.”  That was the last time I ever had yellow squash on my plate.
            Last year, I grew my squash and cucumber plants from seeds inside the house, 3 weeks or so earlier than planting time.  I had hoped to make them good and strong before planting them out so that the bugs didn’t find nice tender plants to eat.  And when I transplanted them, I surrounded them with foil to give them more light. 
            And the darn pill-bugs ate every plant. 
            But my neighbor waited until the proper time to plant her squash (she didn’t do cucumbers), putting the seeds right into the ground.  And her plants did beautifully.  Not one was eaten by a bug.  This taught me that it’s not worth it to rush it.  Don’t even bother planting the seeds 2-3 weeks early inside.  I think it just makes weaker plants that are “easy pickings” for the bugs.  Even the volunteer seedlings that grew in the garden did better.  And the cucumber seeds that I planted in the ground after the bugs ate the first plants did well, too.  It’s just not worth it to rush it. 
            This year, I will wait until I can plant the squash and cucumber seeds outside, right in the ground, at the right time, with no foil around them.  (As I said, the pill-bugs lived under the foil and then came out at night to munch on the conveniently-located baby plants that were only two-inches away.  I basically provided them with a home and a buffet dinner.  And they thanked me by destroying all my baby plants.  Ingrates!)

10.  Garlic/Onions:  By me, garlic is best planted in late fall the previous year.  So when I make up my plan, I mark a bed down as “spring garlic” because it’s already in the ground before the snow even melts, and it starts growing super-early in spring.  And I make sure to note in the bed before it (tomatoes and peppers, in my case) that there will be “garlic planted in late fall,” after the tomatoes and peppers are pulled out. 
            And as I said earlier, I schedule garlic and onions for the last beds in the rotation, before compost (or legumes).  That way, I don’t waste all the extra nutrients of the compost/legumes on garlic and onions, which shouldn’t have all that good stuff feeding the green tops anyway.  You want the bulbs to be fed, not the tops. 
            (But so far, my onions have been pitiful, barely growing larger than a walnut.  I’m still working on it, but I think they’ve been in beds that have never seen compost yet.  So maybe as the beds get fed and built-up, they’ll do better over time.  I’ve been working with onion transplants, but maybe I’ll throw a couple sets in there to compare.)    

11.  Potatoes:  The one plant I do not allow in the garden is potatoes.  I tried them for a couple years, and it was a worthless endeavor.  I got about 2-3 potatoes per plant.  I just don’t have enough sun.  Plus, they left seeds and baby potatoes in the ground to sprout the following year, so I am still fighting potato sprouts coming up in beds that I don’t want them in.  And I can’t stand digging them up.  The ground gets a bit hard and compacted, and it’s not fun digging through it, looking for potatoes that you’re not even sure are there.  And when I do dig, I chop into potatoes and ruin them, or I chop into toads and ruin them.  And I can’t stand hurting toads.  (It breaks my son’s heart.)  They love to hide in the fresh-dug dirt around the potato plants.  Plus, potatoes grow on the stem from the bottom up, so you have to keep adding more and more layers of mulch or dirt to keep the potatoes covered.  And potatoes have some of the biggest “cautions” when it comes to putting them in your rotation.  And since they are in the tomato/pepper family, you also have to be more careful of where your tomatoes and peppers go.  And blight diseases can live on the dormant pieces of potato that are underground, infecting your garden with blight the following year when they sprout again.  And all that trouble for a harvest of 2-3 potatoes per seed potato.  May as well just eat the seed potato.  (Not really!  Don’t do it!)  It’s just not worth it!  (My husband really enjoys home-grown potatoes, though.  So I may try a grow bag or the “garbage can” method someday, away from the garden.  Maybe by the driveway where it will get a lot of sun.)
            Oh, and I don't grow corn either.  The raccoons will find it the day before you harvest it, and the bugs will get what the raccoons don't (if you grow things organically, like I do).   

Well, that’s all I can think of now for a general over-view of what I plant and where and why. 

            How about you all?  What are some of your favorite tips or bits of advice?  What has worked for you and what hasn’t?  And for reference, what zone do you live in?

            P.S.  To all of the neurotic people who are thoroughly disturbed that I ended my list at an uneven number like 11, I’m sorry.  I understand anxiety and I dislike anxiety.  So for you, I will add this tip: 
            12.  Keep notes about what you plant and where you plant it.  And write down what varieties you plant.  You are going to want to remember what worked well and what didn’t, so that you can create a better and better plan every year. 
            Phew, now we all feel better, don’t we?  Even if you’re not neurotic, I bet you still felt a bit of unrest and uneasiness when I pointed out that the list stopped at 11.  Come on, admit it . . . I’m right, aren’t I?

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