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The Main Garden

May 30th, 2017

The main garden behind the garage is starting to take shape (at least in my mind). The past three summers I have been expanding the boundaries and dealing with invasive weeds. I’m finally reaching the full size and it’s time to develop main walkways, establish hedges, and redefine planting areas as well. All that will take place this fall as I need the space to grow food this summer. This garden area is roughly 60 feet wide by 80 feet deep. It is currently divided into four foot wide rows with walkways in between. There’s a nursery area and a large compost pile that extends the length of the garden that will eventually become growing space making it closer to 70 feet wide.

Here’s my garden row by row:

The first row contains garlic in the front and asparagus, strawberries, and flowers in the back. Behind the garlic there’s a nice little grove of sage, three plants that provide more than enough sage for us and all of our friends.

The second row is filled with a few perennials in the front, shallots and lettuce, followed by all the brassicas interplanted with lettuce that are being protected from cabbage butterflies by a long tunnel of agribon. Inside the tunnel I have cauliflower, three types of broccoli, and two of brussels sprouts.

The third row contains onions, both red and white, filling most of the row. In the back there’s a trellis with 6 feet of ‘Golden Pod’ peas and 9 bulb fennel plants. You’ll notice a row of garlic halfway back, these were tiny bulblets that I planted very thickly in a row last fall. They will be harvested as green garlic (like green onions) starting now. This row is still in need of a layer of compost as mulch. I’ve been waiting for the worms to quit unearthing the onions to add it.

This row contains all sorts of cutting flowers in the front, a 20 foot trellis of peas with beets and bulb fennel on either side, then a small patch of carrots, a small patch of tiny bulbing purple onions, then a few strawberries, and it’s capped off with a stand of Jerusalem artichokes in the very back. As you can see, I mulch the garden with a layer of compost when things are planted. This keeps weeding to a minimum and it helps me see quickly which space is available for planting and what space is already taken.

This side of the garden has been allowed to be fallow for the past three years. The strawberries have been encouraged to grow over this direction slowly. Every year I dig out a couple feet on one side and let them grow towards the far edge of the garden. They take up this row and half of the next as well. It’s a large patch, but that’s needed for us and for our neighbors.  In front of the strawberries there are a few flowers for summer bouquets and perennials that are waiting for a space to be cleared in the flowerbeds.

This row contains a few small trees and shrubs that are being grown out for the flowerbeds. It’s a nursery area where I like to keep things growing out. I have boxwood cuttings, tiny cherry trees, osage orange seedlings, lavender, and a host of other things I started from seed last year.

In the next row you can see lots of perennials and shrubs up front: peonies, hydrangeas, plums, grasses, willow, and other things that will be moved this fall. In the back I have two rows of tomatoes with 15 tomatoes planted 2.5 feet apart in each row. In between each tomato there are basil plants, flowers, and other smaller vegetables.

The next to the last row of the garden features rhubarb and more perennials up front and a row of peppers in the back. There will be one more row past this, but it’s not planted yet. This year it will be a row of sunflowers to block the wind that comes from that direction and other flowers for the butterflies (mostly tithonia and verbena).  At the back of the garden I’m building a trellis that will be used to grow sweet peas. It will both help keep the wild turkeys out and provide flowers for my table. Stay tuned for photo updates of the garden throughout the summer and in the coming years as the rows are reoriented the other direction. In front of these rows there’s also a 10 foot wide section that now contains the new asparagus bed. In front of that there will be a boxwood hedge or a fence, which will then have a 5-8 foot wide perennial border in front of that. That area is currently piled with compost that’s waiting to be spread on these sections of the garden. Part is also still growing in sod, which will be smothered with cardboard in preparation for the perennial border.

6 Comments to “The Main Garden”
  1. Heather on May 30, 2017 at 6:22 am

    Your gardens are gorgeous! I’m curious what type of rhubarb you have. I’ve bought 2 different ones a few years back that have super tiny stalks and produce barely enough for a pie a season.

    Reply to Heather's comment

  2. Misti on May 30, 2017 at 9:31 am

    Your gardens are looking great, Susy! I still can’t believe y’all have been there this long already!

    Reply to Misti's comment

  3. S on May 30, 2017 at 11:04 am

    This looks great! I love getting a big-picture overview of your space. Also–thanks for the tip on mulching with compost. I use a grass clippings for most of my beds, but for tighter-spaced crops like onions etc. it doesn’t work as well, But, I hate to just leave exposed soil so compost sounds like a great alternative. Thanks!

    Reply to S's comment

  4. Tommy on May 30, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    wow, such an impressive garden! thanks for the tour. I always have a hard time rotating crops effectively. I can’t imagine how much planning goes into doing that for a garden plot of your size!

    Reply to Tommy's comment

    • Susy on May 30, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      I typically just rotate things one row over each year, that makes it easy to do crop rotation. I also utilize cover crops, especially mustard, which helps mitigate diseases in the garden.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Nebraska Dave on June 1, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Susy, it looks like you are off to a good start. I’m heavy into the first round of weeding. The entire garden is almost done for the first time. I just have a couple of pathways to weed and the garden will be looking better than it ever has since the beginning of Terra Nova Gardens six years ago. I’m up to 12 raised beds with more on the way next year. Each year gets a little easier to deal with weeds as the methods are improved. I use grass clipping without chemicals for mulch in many light layers over the summer. Heavy layers of grass with get slimy and stink but light layers will dry out and provide the best coverage. It will be many more years before this garden will be fully developed.

    Have a great Maine garden day.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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