Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Garden Planning: Starting With a Blank Slate

A day off from work for the New Year holiday provided some time to sit down and begin planning the 2012 garden. Improvements and expansions made over the past few years have really made gardening easier and more productive. I am not planning any major changes or digging any new beds this year, but there will be some expansion of existing beds. Below is a blank layout of the garden spot for 2012:

Bed A is an in-ground bed and will gain 2-feet on the north end. In 2011, this ground was covered with a layer of cardboard, mulch, and containers growing Roma tomatoes.

Containers growing at the north end of bed A in 2011.
By the end of the season, the grass was gone and the soil is ready to be amended and cultivated with the rest of the bed adding 16 square feet of growing space. Overall Bed A will measure 8x21 feet.

Bed B is also an in-ground bed that measures 8x19 feet. The two 4x4 beds from C and D will be moved to the south end of Bed B so the trellis can be utilized.

The largest change to the garden spot this year will involve the Square Foot Garden (SFG) beds. The area of beds C and D originally held six 4x4 SFGs, two rows of three 4x4 SFGs with 2.5-foot grassy paths in between.

Square Foot Gardens from Spring 2011

The frames of the two center SFG beds will be moved to Bed B and the grassy paths on either side will be dug up and combined into an in-ground gardening space. So from left to right will be a 4x4 SFG, a 9-foot in-ground garden bed, then another 4x4 SFG.

This change will make watering much easier and more efficient because I can string soaker hoses all the way across the beds. There will also be less grass trimming in between the paths and I will gain 40 square feet of additional growing space. In addition, I will still be able to reap the benefits of the raised beds warming quicker in the Spring. The two modified beds will measure 17.5x4 each.

Bed E is the newest bed dug last year. It measures 19x5 feet and will grow mostly potatoes this year.

My seed box is organized, I have a rough list of what I want to grow, and a blank slate to work with.... Now on to mapping out the garden and developing a seed starting schedule.


  1. That sounds interesting, and I hear you about the easier watering. That's always a high priority at my house. How do you deal with the wide beds? I need to reach across mine so they're limited by my short arms.

  2. Stefaneener: I like using soaker hoses because I can attach the hose, turn on the water, and let it go for a while. I had to use a sprinkler on the 4x4 beds. Even on low they sprayed the foliage. The large in-ground gardens are divided up into 3 or 4-foot wide beds with walking paths in between.

  3. Sounds like you have an excellent plan for this years garden. We are trying to use more soaker hoses on our garden as well, especially around the tomato and squash plants. Your tomatoes plants are/were obviously thriving in those containers...if you don't mind my asking, are the containers totes and what is the black plastic for?

  4. Mr. H. : The containers are a DIY self watering container similar to Earthboxes. They are 18 gallon totes and hold two Roma tomatoes each. The original post is here: 18 Gallon SWC although I have modified these since then. I have used them for 2-years with great results.

    The plastic is solar mulch. It helps warm the soil, keep the weeds in control, and helps conserve moisture. Here is a post from last year showing how I use it.

  5. It looks like you're getting things underway. I'd really love to know what program you're using to map your garden. I'm no graphics artist, but maybe you have a recommendation.

  6. The fun begins! Are you dreaming of new varities or sticking to the tried and true this year?

  7. Jody: I use Adobe Illustrator for my garden layout because I know it very well since I use it every day for my profession. I think any drawing program will work for a layout. Have you explored googledocs?

    Henbogle: Only fellow gardeners would understand how much fun it is to plan and plot out the garden :) I will be trying a few new things, but mostly sticking to what works since we depend on a certain amount of stored foods.

  8. The bed layout looks good and I like the changes you are making this year to use that space between beds that is probably a largely unused walkway option. I am not planning to dig any new beds this year, but we have a tree or two nearby that we intend to have removed to increase sun exposure and unlike last year, my pots will be used on the deck again this year. I don't know why I skipped them altogether last year but it really reduced my growing area.

  9. I like your new layout Rachel. Now you can have some more fun playing around with what you are going to plant where.

    I have most of my gardens figured out. I'm sure it will change before it's time to plant though!

  10. I've got to map out my garden too. It is always so much fun to plan out what is going to happen.

  11. Laura: I will also be double digging the raised beds and incorporating the native soil. I think this will help hold more moisture in these beds. We also will need to trim a few limbs from a tree at the southeast corner of the garden.

    Robin: I've been playing around trying to rotate my beds and get everything in. I usually end up swapping some things at planting time, but the general layout helps me figure out how many seedlings to start.

    Daphne: I really enjoy the planning stage especially with cold winter outside.

  12. You have started out so well to make a visual plan of your intentions. I usually sketch my plans on has worked out well so far.

    1. I often sketch out on paper as well. Then transfer my layout in more detail on the computer generated garden plan. I usually make changes along the way so I wanted to use a method that would allow easy editing.

  13. Thanks for pointing out googledocs. I had no idea it was there.