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Backyard Garden 2009

For the past 3 years we've planted a traditional type of row garden in a 14' x 40' and 20' x 6' sections of our backyard.  When we bought the house from my parents, there was a large ornamental flower bed that we slowly converted to a full vegetable garden.  Not really knowing what we were doing, we started slow, learned along the way and know there's much more to learn. 

This picture is the only one I could find that showed the entire garden.  Even though it's a bit small you can see the rows and the 2 apple trees in the back that we planed last spring.  The large tree in the top left corner will be moved as this year we want to move towards raised garden beds.  We want to go down that road for a few reasons:

Dogs: We have a 3 year old and an 8mth old pair of black labs.  They are great but the little one is a digger and chewer, so this is one of the main reasons for the change.  She already chewed up my raspberry bushes planted last year, which was my fault for putting her out where she could reach them, what was I thinking??  More on my remedies for this later.

Square Foot Gardening: The last few years we basically bought our seeds on a whim without much planning.  This worked out OK, but we didn't space our our plantings and ended up with too much lettuce or cherry tomatoes all at once, not enough potatoes, beans or carrots to carry us into winter, etc...  This year we are going to plan for preserves and follow intensive square foot gardening practices to increase our yields and maximize the space we have.  Also want to try companion planting of mutual beneficial vegetables and flowers.

Extending Growing Season: I've seen a few articles on using 8' pvc pipe and cover to create nice row covers to extend the growing season here in our Great White North when frost comes earlier then we want, so want to test it this year along with possibly experimenting on a few removable "Cold Frame" cover for the beds.

Ease of Management:I've never worked with raised beds before, but from I've read and feedback I've received from others, they are easier to keep up and work on.  Ours will be hemlock, which will match our fence when it goes up.  Everything is at an arms length away and the paths in between give you ample room to move about, also important for the dogs and kids ;o)

Esthetics's:I honestly find raised beds more neat and esthetically pleasing to the eye.  Since my wife is a photographer, we have a few other backyard projects to create good photo ops, which will tie into the beds as well.

I'm still playing with the design and layout, but we can easily go with eight 4' x 12' raised beds in the main area and another two 4' x 8' in the back.  This year we're going to test growing potatoes in a "potato stack" so that will be in addition to the raised beds and another post all together.

Putting money away for this project already and will purchase the hemlock for the raised beds in end of April or start of May depending on how the thaw goes... can't wait and will do a follow up post including pictures ;o)

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