"Getting rid of everything that doesn’t matter allows you to remember who you are. Simplicity doesn’t change who you are, it brings you back to who you are."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Ever Expanding Waistlin...Ooops...My Expanding Garden

Can a garden ever be big enough?  Good question.  

I can tell you that MY garden needs to be at least as big as the two bellies that it needs to fill so...

Here's the plan.  (Pardon my arts and crafts style layout.)

Yellow = Existing "dug-out" beds.
Blue = 4 new raised beds
Adding 2 fruit trees (2 more on the other side of the yard)
Try a sweet corn patch

I'm wanting to put in 2 long (3' X 24' Horizontal view) and 2 slightly shorter (3' X 16' vertical view) raised beds this year.

My soil is like concrete so last year when I started the garden I either had to dig it out and add soil or I had to go up. 

Money was pretty tight last year so I opted not to raise the beds.  I just dug out the crappy clay soil and back filled them with Mels Mix.  What a mistake!  June hit with torrential rain (7 inches in 1 day!) and my "dug-outs" turned into swimming pools.  Normally we trend towards hot and dry so it came as a surprise that we had too much water.

It seems reasonable therefore to try some raised beds this year.  I'm pretty sure the tomatoes (they never recovered) will like it much better. 

I'm also going to till or "double dig" a patch of regular NC dirt beside the shed for sweet corn.  Just out of curiosity.  This area will get some shade late in the day (after 5 pm in summer) but I don't think it'll impact the corn that much.  We'll see.

On the opposite side of the yard we'll be working various fruit patch's and fruit trees.

I'm still researching raspberries and blackberries (unsure if it's worth trying in this region.)  SM doesn't care for blackberries so this one would be for me and I'm not sure it's worth it.  Both SM and I LOVE red raspberries but the NC State site sounds very discouraging in terms of success.  Heritage, Southland and Mandrian varieties are what they recommend if we want to give it a shot.

I'm considering planting grapes. (SM says don't bother)  But I see a lot of grape arbors in a lot of backyards so maybe our climate is good for growing them.  I'd want them for straight out fresh eating so I'm more interested in a seedless variety.  Lakemont and Niagara (white), Moored and Suffolk (red) and Venus (black) seem to get a good review.

I'd like to try Asian Pears, but SM would rather have pears that are good for canning. Asians are great eating pears (like an apple) but I'm not sure how they would can.  We bought them at the local farmers market this past fall and spoke with the vendor who says that a fellow was growing them successfully over near Ashville.  Make me want to try them.  They're yummy and WAY too expensive to buy in the store.

Research shows that fire blight is an issue with growing pears around here.  NC State says that the Kieffer variety seems to be a reliable producer around here.  Never heard of them.  They also recommend Moonglow and Magness.  

We will definitely be adding a Granny Smith and a Pink Lady apple tree on the other side of the yard.  I NEED me some Granny Smith applesauce and I love the crisp tartness of the Pink Lady's.  We put in Fuji and Gala last year as those are SM's favorites.

Sounds like a lot of work doesn't it?  But it's fun and rewarding so I don't mind.

I'll be curious if these plans actually turn into reality.  Ever notice that?  It starts off as one thing in your head and then everything comes out completely different.


  1. I've had pretty good success canning pear sauce. I use it in baking primarily -- interchanging it for olive or canola oils. It adds moisture without the excess fatty oils. Just make it like you would apple sauce -- peel and cut, cook down, and puree. It's especially good in a dense cake like a pound or fruit cake.

    Good luck with all your dreaming! We're spinning wheels this year on the garden since we don't live close enough to Wildwood to really tend it. Hopefully we'll find a good house in town this year and be ready to hit the ground running next spring.

  2. Best layed plans always go awry, or at least mine do!

    We have clay too. And I have always cussed at it, but I am learning that it's not so bad afterall. It has some positives. Believe it or not, our root crops love it! They may come out looking a little funny, not the perfect shape, but eh whatever!

    Pink Ladies are one of my favorite apples!

  3. I like to think of it this way when deciding if to grow something questionable. I do not smoke, eat out,have cable, buy lottery tickets or any of the other things most Americans do. So if I have an extra $20-$40 to spend on a tree or grape vine and it dies, well I still spent less than someone who went to the movies. Plus now you have the experience for future use.

  4. Emma...I never tried making pear sauce. Thats a good idea actually. Gosh, I hope you two can get your hands in some garden dirt close to you. If it doesn't happen there's always the farmers market.

    APG...Thanks for telling me about the root crops. I'm going to try bush beans in the clay too.

    Jane...I like that kind of thinking! I'll never get rich doing to Lotto but I might get lucky with a new plant

  5. Oh gosh, planning has a way of taking all kinds of twists and turns. That's one of the reasons I write stuff down and draw diagrams, so I remember what in the world I really want to do! I love that you've been doing your homework and working it out with SM. I've had to abandon some things I wanted because of differences in our personal preferences, but really, I'm just happing to be growing something! It'll be fun seeing how all this materializes for you.