Lately I’m having a hard time drawing the line between what should get more attention: my new Le Creuset Dutch oven or planning out my garden for next year. What to cook vs what to plant. Either way both schools of thought provide me with a constant mind game and humor my co-workers. Not to mention, a day wandering through the Van Duesen Gardens, tackling Julia Child’s ‘Beef Bourguignon’, absorbing the concepts I’ve been studying in an ‘Intro to Landscape Design’ course and an evening with Stevie (MF’in) Nicks – basically, my mind has been on overload.
Stimulation: it’s a blessing and a curse.
The Internet was slow as molasses for Cyber Monday sales as people consumed their lives away. It’s also made my normal routine of scouring through sites for new recipes to cook during the week near impossible. So, I decided to kick it old school and take to my graph paper, apply some new design techniques and start planning out my garden. Nothing like thinking in colour on a grey day: Julia Child inspirations can wait… lasagna is on the menu tonight and that recipe is engraved in my mind.
The process for me starts by making a list of what I loved and what did well, knowing full well that next year might bring completely different growing conditions. But I don’t dwell on that. Just like I’m not dwelling on the fact that last year we were shredding deep snow at this time and this year it’s warm and wet with the lowest base we’ve seen in years. Gross – but c’est la vie.
The second list I make is what’s sucked or I just don’t want to grow anymore. This is largely based on the fact that I can get it from someone local like Laughing Crow Organics or Helmer’s or without sacrificing my own garden space. Supporting our local farmers is equally as important in the grand equation and should not be left out!
The third list is the experimental list AKA: my favourite.
The other lists include; herbs, flowers and things that grow on the deck. This list will change and grow which is part of the glory of working in pencil.
Second step of the layout plan is to draft your garden space on paper, preferably graph (enter a hint of obsession here), to somewhat of an exact scale in 2D form and trace the outline with permanent marker. Then the fun begins – what grew where and where do they go next: the power of rotation.
Be sure to sharpen your HB2 pencil and prepare your eraser for this stage. Start plopping your veggies, flowers and herbs in as you see fit. Ideas will come and go as fast as you think them and are on to the next. And to be completely honest, by the time you go to plant they’ve probably changed but hey, remember, it’s just as much fun to colour outside of the lines as within.
Third step… sit and wait. It’s winter – the ground is frozen, you can’t plant shit but somehow your kale still seems to grow; roll with it. Pour yourself a tasty beverage, dream up new ideas, play around with your design, your ideas and aspirations. No thought is too small or unachievable. Remember, I started my current garden with nothing but a “green house”.
To obsess over what you want to grow and eat is a healthy, sustainable step in the right direction – you just have to be willing to try.
It’s hard to move or eradicate sunchokes or hops, so be sure to give their location lots of thought. They also spread…in the case of hops, underground vines pop up 8-10′ from its initial location. Roots got as big around as my arm and are tough to dig or cut!!! In both plants, a bit left in the ground springs to life again. Never put either in your compost. Happy planning…it’s the best part of winter!