Spring is just around the corner, and for many of us, that means it’s time to start planning our gardens for the upcoming season. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner looking to get your hands dirty, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of growing your own food and watching your flowers bloom. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing my spring/summer garden plan and offering helpful tips for making the most out of your own garden.
This year, my garden will be filled with a variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and continuous care of my chickens. I’m excited to try out some new plants and experiment with different growing techniques. I’ll be planting a mix of seeds and seedlings, and I’m already dreaming of the delicious meals I’ll be able to create with the fresh produce from my garden.
If you’re new to gardening, don’t worry – I’ll be sharing some beginner-friendly tips and tricks that will help you get started. So, whether you’re looking to grow your own food, create a beautiful outdoor space, or just enjoy the satisfaction of watching something grow from seed, I hope you’ll join me on this gardening journey. Let’s get started!
My garden is built around a fundamental structure consisting of ten 10-by-4-feet raised beds, which are encircled by an array of fruit trees and bushes. To give you a comprehensive view of the garden plan, I have included a screenshot. In the upcoming section of my spring/summer plan, I will break down each raised bed and provide detailed information on what I plan to grow in them.
Raised Bed #1:
At the center of this bed, you’ll find sweet potatoes, a nutritious and delicious root vegetable that is easy to grow and very versatile in the kitchen. Alongside the sweet potatoes, you’ll see rows of radishes, a fast-growing and colorful vegetable that adds a bright pop of flavor to any dish. And on the outer edge of the bed, you’ll find bush green beans, a classic vegetable that is easy to grow and produces a bountiful harvest. Together, these three plants make a great addition to any garden, providing both beauty and bounty.
- Sweet potatoes need plenty of sunlight, so choose a location for your raised bed that gets at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.
- Start with healthy, disease-free seed potatoes, which can be purchased from a local nursery or online. Or start with sweet potato slips directly.
- Before planting, prepare the soil by adding compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil fertility and drainage.
- Plant sweet potatoes in the spring or early summer, about 4-6 weeks after the last frost date.
- Space sweet potato slips (the small plants that grow from the seed potatoes) about 12-18 inches apart in rows that are 3-4 feet apart.
- Water regularly but don’t overwater, as sweet potatoes don’t like to sit in waterlogged soil.
- Harvest sweet potatoes when the leaves start to yellow and die back in the fall, usually about 100-120 days after planting.
- Radishes prefer cool weather, so plant them in the spring or fall when temperatures are between 50-65°F.
- Plant radish seeds about 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart in rows that are 6-12 inches apart.
- Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, as radishes can be prone to rot in overly wet soil.
- Thin radishes to about 2-3 inches apart once they are a few inches tall, as overcrowding can cause stunted growth.
- Harvest radishes when they are about 1-2 inches in diameter, usually about 20-30 days after planting.
Bush Green Beans:
- Bush green beans are easy to grow and can produce a large harvest in a small space. They do not require staking or a trellis.
- Plant bush bean seeds in well-draining soil that has been amended with compost or other organic matter.
- Plant seeds about 1-2 inches deep and 2-4 inches apart in rows that are 18-24 inches apart.
- Water regularly but don’t overwater, as beans prefer evenly moist soil.
- Harvest beans when they are about 4-6 inches long and tender, usually about 50-60 days after planting.
Raised Bed #2
This raised bed is a combination of cucamelons, cucumbers and cilantro, both of which prefer cooler temperatures and are well-suited for the mild climate of spring and fall. The cucamelons and cucumbers are vining plants that can grow quite tall and are planted along one edge of the raised bed. They are trained to climb up an A-frame trellis, which not only saves space in the garden but also provides some shade for the cilantro planted on the opposite side of the bed. Cilantro is an herb that can quickly bolt and go to seed in hot weather, but the shade provided by the cucumber vines can help keep the temperature cooler and prevent the cilantro from bolting too quickly. This planting combination not only looks aesthetically pleasing but also creates a beneficial microclimate in the raised bed, where the different plants can support each other and thrive together.
- Cucamelons, also known as “Mexican sour gherkins,” are small, cucumber-like fruits that have a tart, citrusy flavor.
- Cucamelons prefer warm, sunny locations, so choose a spot in your garden that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
- Plant cucamelon seeds about 1 inch deep and 3-4 inches apart in rows that are 4-6 inches apart.
- Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, as cucamelons can be prone to rot in overly wet soil.
- Harvest cucamelons when they are about the size of a grape, usually about 60-70 days after planting.
- Cucumbers are a classic summer vegetable that are easy to grow and produce a bountiful harvest.
- Cucumbers prefer warm, sunny locations, so choose a spot in your garden that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
- Plant cucumber seeds about 1 inch deep and 6-8 inches apart in rows that are 3-4 feet apart.
- Cucumbers need plenty of water, so keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
- Train cucumber vines up an A-frame trellis to save space and improve air circulation, which can help prevent disease.
- Harvest cucumbers when they are about 6-8 inches long and firm, usually about 50-70 days after planting.
- Cilantro, also known as coriander, is a flavorful herb that is used in many different cuisines.
- Cilantro prefers cooler temperatures, so plant it in the spring or fall when temperatures are between 50-85°F.
- Plant cilantro seeds about 1/4 inch deep and 6-8 inches apart in rows that are 12-18 inches apart.
- Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
- Harvest cilantro leaves when they are young and tender, usually about 3-4 weeks after planting.
- Cilantro bolts quickly in hot weather, so plant a new crop every few weeks to ensure a steady supply of fresh leaves.
- An A-frame trellis is a great way to save space in the garden and train vining plants like cucumbers to grow upward.
- Place the A-frame trellis in the raised bed, and train cucumber vines to climb up the trellis as they grow.
- Prune away any excess growth or tendrils that aren’t growing in the direction of the trellis to encourage upward growth.
- My favorite A-frame trellis that I use in my garden can be found here: Deluxe Cucumber Trellis
Raised Bed #3
This raised bed is a diverse combination of vegetables and herbs that includes collard greens, tomatoes, radish, peppers, parsley, chives, and basil. Collard greens are leafy vegetables that are high in nutrients and flavor, and they are planted on one side of the raised bed where they can receive full sun. Tomatoes are another popular garden crop that are planted on the side of the raised bed, where they can receive ample sunlight to produce juicy and flavorful fruit. Radishes are root vegetables that grow quickly and are planted near the tomatoes, where they will mature before the other crops. Peppers are planted alongside the tomatoes, as they also require full sun and can benefit from the shade provided by the tomato plants. Parsley, chives, and basil are herbs that can be grown throughout the raised bed, as they can help deter pests and add flavor to the other crops. This combination of plants not only looks beautiful but also provides a range of flavors and nutrients, making it a great addition to any garden.
- Collard greens thrive in well-draining soil that is rich in nutrients, so be sure to amend the soil with compost before planting.
- Harvest collard greens regularly back to the stem to encourage new leaf growth.
- Tomatoes require full sun and fertile, well-draining soil. Amend the soil with compost before planting.
- Provide support for tomato plants by staking or using a tomato cage to keep the fruit off the ground and prevent disease.
- Water regularly, and be sure to keep the soil consistently moist.
- Radishes grow best in cool temperatures and prefer well-draining soil.
- Plant radish seeds directly in the garden bed in the early spring or late fall.
- Peppers thrive in full sun and fertile, well-draining soil.
- Fertilize peppers regularly with a balanced fertilizer such as compost to promote healthy growth and fruit production.
- Parsley prefers fertile, well-draining soil and partial shade.
- Harvest the outer leaves regularly to promote new growth.
- Chives prefer well-draining soil and partial shade.
- Harvest the leaves regularly, but be sure to leave some behind to promote new growth.
- Basil prefers well-draining soil and full sun.
- Pinch back the tips of the plant regularly to promote bushier growth and increase leaf production.
Raised Bed #4
This raised bed features a unique combination of eggplant, sugarcane, and carrots. Eggplant is a warm-weather crop that requires full sun and well-draining soil, making it the perfect companion for sugarcane, which also thrives in warm weather and requires ample sunlight. The carrots are planted alongside the eggplant and sugarcane, as they are a cool-season crop that can be grown in the early spring or late fall. Once the carrots are done, sweet potatoes can be planted in their place to keep the raised bed productive year-round. With a little care and attention, this combination of crops will provide a bountiful harvest.
- Eggplants thrive in warm weather and full sun, so be sure to plant them in an area with plenty of sunlight.
- Eggplants require fertile, well-draining soil that is rich in nutrients. Amend the soil with compost before planting.
- Eggplants, depending on the variety, may need to be staked. You can use a simple wood dowel or a more durable option such as these eggplant cages.
- Sugarcane requires full sun and warm weather to grow, making it the perfect companion for eggplants.
- Sugarcane is a thirsty crop, so be sure to water it regularly, especially during hot and dry weather.
- Sugarcane is a heavy feeder and requires ample nutrients, so amend the soil with compost before planting, and fertilize regularly.
- Carrots are a cool-season crop that prefer cooler temperatures and partial shade.
- Carrots require well-draining soil that is loose and free of rocks, as they have a long taproot that can become misshapen if the soil is too compact.
- Sweet potatoes require full sun and fertile, well-draining soil.
- Amend the soil with compost before planting to provide ample nutrients for the sweet potatoes.
- Water the sweet potatoes regularly, keeping the soil consistently moist.
Raised Bed #5
This raised bed features a combination of pole green beans, Swiss chard, and melons, creating a diverse and productive garden space. Pole green beans are a climbing crop that require support, making them a great companion for the Swiss chard, which is a leafy green crop that doesn’t require support. The melons are planted alongside the green beans and Swiss chard, as they are a vining crop that can easily climb up the trellis with the beans or meander over the raised bed. This vertical garden design maximizes space and allows for a greater variety of crops in a smaller area. Be sure to keep the soil consistently moist, especially during the hotter months, and fertilize regularly to promote healthy growth.
Pole Green Beans:
- Pole green beans require support to climb, so be sure to provide a trellis or other support system for them to grow on.
- Swiss chard is a hardy crop that can tolerate a range of temperatures, but prefers cooler weather.
- Plant Swiss chard in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter, and fertilize regularly to promote healthy growth.
- Melons require warm weather and full sun to thrive, so be sure to plant them in an area with plenty of sunlight.
- Melons require well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter, so amend the soil with compost before planting.
- Water the melons regularly, keeping the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Be sure to avoid getting water on the leaves, as this can promote disease.
Raised Bed #6
This raised bed features a combination of kale, cauliflower, and hot peppers. Kale is a hardy crop that can be continuously harvested, making it a great addition to any garden. Cauliflower is a cool-season crop that prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. When the cauliflower is done, it can be replaced with tomatillos, which are a versatile crop that can be used in a variety of dishes. Hot peppers add a spicy kick to any meal and can be harvested as they mature.
- Use well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Fertilize regularly with compost to promote healthy growth.
- Harvest by picking the outer leaves and leaving the center to continue growing.
- To prevent yellowing of the cauliflower, tie outer leaves over the head. Harvest when the heads are firm and compact.
- Plant hot peppers in warm weather.
- You may need to provide a bit of support depending on how vigorously the hot pepper plants grow.
- Plant tomatillos in warm weather.
- Cross-pollination is required to set fruit, so plant at least two plants.
- Harvest when the fruit is mature and the husk turns brown and splits open.
Raised Bed #7
This raised bed is a diverse mix of flavorful and nutritious plants that are sure to provide a bountiful harvest. The combination of tomatoes, peppers, and celery creates a classic flavor profile that can be used in a variety of dishes. The addition of chamomile adds a soothing and aromatic touch to the bed, while the red cabbage adds color and texture. Once the red cabbage is harvested, it can be replaced with more tomatoes to ensure a continuous harvest. Finally, the inclusion of basil provides a burst of fresh flavor that pairs well with all of the other plants in the bed.
- Celery needs consistent moisture and cool temperatures, so choose a spot that’s partially shaded and moist.
- Plant celery seedlings about 8-10 inches apart, and water them regularly.
- Fertilize them with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer every 2-3 weeks.
- Celery can take a long time to mature, so be patient and wait for the stalks to reach their full size before harvesting.
- Chamomile prefers well-draining soil and a spot with partial sun.
- Plant chamomile seeds in the spring, about 6-8 inches apart.
- Water them regularly, but don’t over-water.
- Chamomile doesn’t need much fertilizer, but you can add a little compost or organic fertilizer to the soil before planting.
- Harvest the flowers when they’re fully open and dry them for tea.
- Red cabbage needs a sunny spot and well-draining soil.
- Plant the cabbage seedlings about 18 inches apart, and water them deeply.
- Fertilize them with a balanced fertilizer every 2-3 weeks.
- Harvest the cabbage when the heads are firm and fully formed, and replace with more tomato seedlings.
Raised Bed #8
This raised bed combination includes oregano, thyme, corn, arugula, and lettuce. Oregano and thyme are perennial herbs that add flavor to many dishes and can be harvested throughout the growing season. Corn is a tall crop that provides shade for the arugula and lettuce, which are cool-season crops that can be harvested early in the growing season before the corn becomes too tall. Additionally, the arugula and lettuce can provide a ground cover that helps prevent weed growth and conserve moisture in the soil.
Oregano and Thyme:
- These perennial herbs prefer full sun and well-draining soil.
- They can be propagated by division or by taking cuttings.
- Provide regular watering and fertilization to promote healthy growth.
- This warm-season crop requires full sun and fertile, well-draining soil.
- Plant corn in blocks to ensure good pollination.
Arugula and lettuce:
- These cool-season crops prefer partial shade and well-draining soil.
- Plant in early spring or fall, and harvest regularly to keep the plants productive.
- Water regularly and fertilize with compost to promote leaf growth.
Raised Bed #9
This raised bed combination includes artichoke, fennel, and asparagus. Artichoke is a perennial plant that produces large, edible flower buds that can be harvested in the second or third year of growth. Fennel is an annual plant that produces edible bulbs and fronds that add a distinctive anise-like flavor to dishes. Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that produces edible shoots that can be harvested for several weeks each year. These three plants complement each other well, as they all have deep root systems and can benefit from the well-draining soil and space provided by the raised bed.
- This perennial plant prefers full sun and fertile, well-draining soil.
- It requires regular watering and fertilization to promote healthy growth.
- Harvest the flower buds when they are still tightly closed.
- Learn more about growing artichokes in my blog post here: All About Artichokes
- This annual plant prefers full sun and well-draining soil. It can be planted in early spring or late summer.
- Harvest the bulbs and fronds when they are mature.
- The growing conditions for asparagus are a bit complicated so I’ve expanded more on this plant than the previous ones.
- Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that prefers full sun and well-draining soil. It is best to start with one-year-old crowns, which can be planted in early spring in trenches about 6-8 inches deep. Cover the crowns with 2-3 inches of soil and gradually fill in the trench as the plants grow. Water regularly, but be careful not to overwater, as asparagus prefers well-drained soil. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer in early spring and again after the last harvest.
- Harvest: Do not harvest the asparagus shoots in the first year after planting, as this allows the plants to establish their root system. In the second year, harvest the shoots when they are about 6-8 inches tall, using a sharp knife to cut them just below the soil surface. Harvest for about 4-6 weeks, or until the shoots become thinner and more spindly. Stop harvesting when the shoots start to develop fern-like foliage, which will help the plant store energy for the next year’s growth.
- Pruning: At the end of the growing season, after the foliage has turned yellow, prune the asparagus stems back to the ground. This helps the plant regenerate its roots and prepares it for the next growing season. Mulch the bed with a layer of compost or other organic material to protect the roots during the winter.
Raised Bed #10
This raised bed combination includes perennial walking onions, parsley, artichoke, sage, and zucchini. Perennial walking onions are a hardy plant that produce edible green shoots that can be harvested throughout the growing season. Parsley is an annual herb that adds flavor to many dishes and can be harvested continuously throughout the growing season. Artichoke, sage, and zucchini are all warm-season crops that require full sun and fertile, well-draining soil. Sage adds a distinctive flavor to dishes and can be harvested throughout the growing season. Zucchini is a prolific producer of edible fruit that requires regular harvesting to keep the plant productive. These plants complement each other well, as they all have different growth habits to make the most of the space provided by the raised bed.
Perennial walking onions:
- This hardy plant prefers full sun and well-draining soil.
- It can be propagated by dividing the bulbs or by planting the bulbils.
- Harvest the bulbs and green shoots throughout the growing season.
- This annual herb prefers partial shade and well-draining soil.
- Plant in early spring or fall, and harvest regularly to keep the plants productive.
- This perennial herb prefers full sun and well-draining soil.
- It can be propagated by division or by taking cuttings.
- Harvest the leaves throughout the growing season.
- This warm-season crop prefers full sun and fertile, well-draining soil.
- It requires regular watering and fertilization to promote healthy growth.
- Harvest the fruit when it is small to keep the plant productive and for maximum tasted. Overgrown zucchini often have a lot of water and less flavorful.
It’s been three years since I started my blueberry patch, but unfortunately, it hasn’t been thriving as much as I had hoped. Despite my efforts to amend the soil for acidic conditions, apply plenty of compost, and carefully monitor the watering, it seems like it’s time to consider a change. I’m thinking of retiring my blueberry patch and replacing it with either a pumpkin patch or some thornless blackberries. On the bright side, my strawberry patch is doing great, so I’ll definitely be keeping that in place.
When it comes to gardening, it’s important to be flexible and willing to try new things. Even if you’ve put a lot of effort into a certain crop, sometimes it’s just not meant to be. If you’re experiencing similar difficulties with your blueberry patch, don’t be afraid to switch things up and try a different crop. Thornless blackberries are a great choice for a sweet, juicy fruit that’s a bit easier to grow than blueberries. Alternatively, pumpkins are a fun and rewarding crop to try if you’re feeling adventurous.
No matter what you choose to grow in your garden, it’s important to be patient and persistent. Soil amendments, compost, and careful watering are all key factors in creating a healthy growing environment for your plants. And don’t forget to do your research on each crop you choose to grow, so you can give them the best possible chance to thrive. With a little bit of effort and a willingness to adapt, you can create a beautiful and productive garden that you’ll enjoy all season long.
I’m happy to report that most of my fruit trees are doing great! However, my green gage plum tree seems to be struggling. I’ve heard that these trees can take a while to establish, but I’m not sure if I’m willing to wait any longer. This might be the last year I give it a go before considering replacing it with something else.
In an effort to encourage pollinators to visit our garden, we’ve also spread a variety of wildflower mixes underneath all of our fruit trees. We’re hoping that this will help to attract bees and other beneficial insects, which will in turn help to pollinate our fruit trees and increase our yields.
When it comes to growing fruit trees, it’s important to remember that each variety is unique and may require different care. If you’re having trouble with a particular tree, it’s always a good idea to do some research and see if there are any specific steps you can take to help it thrive. And don’t forget about the importance of pollinators! Bees, butterflies, and other insects play a crucial role in the fruit-growing process, so it’s always a good idea to provide them with plenty of food and habitat. Whether you’re planting wildflowers, installing bee boxes, or simply avoiding the use of pesticides, every little bit helps when it comes to supporting these important creatures.
One of my favorite books to learn more about fruit tree care and suitable varieties for your growing zone is: The New Sunset Western Garden Book. It’s an investment but I find myself constantly returning back to it.
Refreshing your potted herb garden is a great way to keep your herbs healthy and productive. If you have any spent plants or herbs that have stopped producing, now is the time to remove them and replace them with new, fresh plants. This will ensure that your herb garden stays vibrant and productive throughout the season.
When it comes to growing herbs in pots, chives, mint, and tarragon are all great choices. Chives are easy to grow and add a delicious onion flavor to any dish. Mint is great for adding a refreshing taste to drinks and desserts, and tarragon has a unique flavor that pairs well with chicken and fish dishes.
To refresh your potted herbs, start by deadheading any spent flowers or leaves. This will encourage new growth and help your herbs stay healthy. Next, remove any plants that are no longer producing or have become overcrowded in their pot. Be sure to replant them in fresh soil to give them the best chance to thrive.
When replanting, be sure to choose a pot that is the appropriate size for your herb. Herbs like chives and tarragon have shallow roots, so they don’t require a very deep pot. Mint, on the other hand, has a more invasive root system and will require a larger pot to grow properly.
Finally, don’t forget to give your potted herbs plenty of water and sunlight. Herbs generally require around 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, so be sure to place your pots in a sunny spot. And be sure to water your herbs regularly, checking the soil moisture level before watering to ensure that you’re not over or under-watering your plants.
With a little bit of care and attention, your potted herbs will be thriving and ready to add fresh flavor to all of your favorite dishes!
As the weather starts to heat up, it’s important to take steps to keep your backyard hens comfortable and healthy. One way to create more shade for your hens is to provide them with some sheltered areas where they can rest and cool off. You can do this by setting up a few umbrellas or a shade cloth, or by planting some fast-growing shade trees in your chicken yard.
Another way to help your hens beat the heat is to provide them with some barrels filled with dirt for dust bathing. Dust bathing is a natural behavior for chickens, and it helps them stay cool and clean. You can create your own dust bath by filling a large plastic or metal container with sand, dirt, and a little bit of diatomaceous earth. Be sure to place the container in a shaded area to keep the dirt cool and refreshing.
Lastly, consider adding some dried homegrown herbs to your nest boxes. Not only do herbs like lavender, chamomile, and mint smell great, they also have natural insect-repelling properties that can help keep your hens healthy and comfortable. Simply dry the herbs in a warm, dry place, then add them to your nest boxes for a fragrant and pest-free environment.
By taking these steps to prepare for hot weather and create more shade for your hens, you’ll be helping your feathered friends stay comfortable and healthy all summer long!