Gardening is much easier with a plan. (Mary Lowther photo)

Gardening is much easier with a plan. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Gardening is easier with a plan

Since we’re moving the garden to another property down the road, I’m adapting my garden plan.

By Mary Lowther

Since we’re moving the garden to another property down the road, I’m adapting my garden plan. Spring 2021 planting will look quite different in the new plot because it’s sunnier and the soil is not as rich, but because I’ve planned one before, this should be easier. If we want to make the best use of soil available and grow crops we like, we should make a plan. Even if we grow in pots on the balcony, a garden plan will allow us to grow as much as possible.

Because garlic stays in soil the longest, from fall through to the following mid July, I plan my garden rotation around this and will adapt my present map to the new plot.

David cleared the land three years ago and we’ve grown cover crop and turned that under to enrich the soil. We sowed fall rye, crimson clover, field peas and vetch, but didn’t sow a volunteer growth of broom bush. Apparently broom bush adds nitrogen to the soil and once it’s plowed under, helps build good soil. Who knew? I’m liking David’s tractor more all the time, although he turned the air blue when stalks got tangled up in the plow tines. He wants me to learn how to run that noisy, complicated piece of machinery, but a wise woman knows her limitations. And the older I get, the wiser I get. Dealing with tractors ranks up there with getting rid of varmints and building barns — all the stuff written for men between the lines of the marriage contract.

We made compost with horse manure, leaves, alfalfa meal, lime and soft rock phosphate and bought a load of composted chicken manure to make the beds with. David prepared two beds for garlic and I added Solomon’s fertilizer mix with minerals and planted the cloves last fall, and as soon as spring breaks, we’ll prepare the rest of the beds. This is going to be fun!

I’m dividing the one acre garden in half and will grow food on half an acre for four years while continuing to sow cover crop on the other half acre. We’ll cut down the cover crop right after it blooms and before it sets seeds so bees will be able to pollinate the flowers, then we’ll sow more cover crop. I don’t plan on watering this side. By the time we’ve done this for four years, we’ll switch sides, configure garden beds on this side and sow cover crop on the other side for the next four years. Growing cover crops without taking anything off allows each side to rest, helps eradicate diseases and pests from the soil and replenishes the soil with nutrients.

The time taken to plan a garden pays off in spades because then we don’t have to figure out where to put what once the growing season’s upon us. I put my notes into a binder so I can add or remove pages at will.

Please contact with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.


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