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.