By: Sarah Koontz
I am sure that you have read the advice to plant a small garden if you are a beginner. Here is my advice:
If you are a new gardener with the intention of building a large garden, prepare yourself to work EXTREMELY HARD if you want to be successful.
This is my 3rd season gardening, and I have had a lot of success so far. My husband and I built our dream home out on 13 acres in the country in the spring of 2013. We moved in at the end of May after a whirlwind 3 month building project.
On of my requests (and all of you women know, it was more of an ultimatum) was that hubby build me a garden ASAP so I didn’t miss the growing season.
And by June 1, I was planting my very first vegetable garden (I am married to a saint). The size of my very first vegetable garden was 1,000 sq ft. Here are some photos from my first year gardening:
I had a lot more time to prepare for my second year of gardening. I spent a good portion of the winter studying up on intensive gardening techniques, and discovering ways to extend my short growing season.
I live in zone 4a, so a few more weeks on either side of the growing season could really change things for me.
I learned how to start my own seeds (read my top 10 Seed Starting Hacks), asked hubby to build hoop houses and cold frames, and planted my first cold hardy vegetables out mid-April. That was a full month and a half ahead of the previous year. Here are photos from my second year gardening:
What a difference a year can make?!?
I had a blast learning how to get the MOST out of MY FRUGAL DIY garden last season (here are 70 of my favorite FRUGAL Gardening Resources).
I learned a lot about companion planting, succession planting, and season extension. My garden produced a beautiful crop (although we did suffer from an extremely early hard frost, and a few rounds of hail).
I was able to can and preserve a lot of the harvest, and we are still enjoying the fruits of our summer toil!
I am rarely satisfied. This is something my husband has learned to accept about me (I hope!) during our decade of marriage. At one point, I am certain he believed that SAYING YES TO CHICKENS (that was his birthday gift to me in 2014) was going to satisfy me for a time.
But I truly want to be as self sufficient as a northerner can possibly be, and our garden simply was NOT BIG ENOUGH! So last fall we extended our garden to a full 75×75 (that is 5,000+ sq ft). I have spent the last few months making a vegetable garden plan, and I am looking forward to getting my hands dirty this season. Here are some photos from our expansion project:
It is my hope to post frequent updates this gardening season on our progress and experience with our large vegetable garden. (Click Here to read an Update from 7/27/2015) I will be planting approximately 60 different varieties of fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs. Here is a downloadable .PDF of the plants I will be growing in my 5,000+ sq ft vegetable garden this year.
Click the Image to Download:
I have often wished that more large-scale gardeners shared their plans online, so I hope this is a benefit to you! Click the Image below to view a closeup of my 5,000+ Zone 4 Vegetable Garden Plan:
View Detailed Garden Plan:
I also believe in the value of a detailed garden schedule. I always do the math pre-season and work hard to develop a planting schedule. I figure out when I will need to start certain seeds indoors, schedule a plan to harden them off and plant them outside.
I refer to my garden schedule regularly throughout the growing season. It is so nice to start the week by looking at my garden schedule and work with the confidence that I am not forgetting anything.
As the season progresses, I will keep track of my garden tasks in a journal. Keeping good records of planting schedules, fertilizing schedules, and harvest dates will create a valuable resource to help me plan my 2016 garden.
I am sure that I will make minor changes to this plan as we go throughout the season, but this is what I have for now (if you live in a different gardening zone, these dates will not apply to you):
Click the Image to Download:
Are you planning a vegetable garden this year? What can I do to help?
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