A New Garden in the Making

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

We've been in our new home for a little more than a week now. I'm getting acquainted with everything: new sights, new sounds (crickets instead of sirens, peacefully), and a collection of plants and shrubs that are still strangers to me. The previous owners of the house left us with good landscaping, wonderful trees, and a couple of lovely container plants on the deck. There are so many possibilities for our new garden and yard; it is at once exciting and overwhelming. Where do we begin?

Over the past few days, we've been making observations to help us orient our new vegetable garden. How does the yard look as the sun passes through the sky? Where is there shade during the day? Which trees and shrubs cast the longest shadows? Which area gets at least five to six hours of full sun? Realizing that we're at the end of the main gardening season, we're thinking carefully about the placement of our new garden beds so that we can maximize use of the available sunlight throughout the year.

Michael measured and marked off one possible plan, laying out the beds in a north to south direction. That will place our garden diagonally in the backyard. At first I was uncomfortable with that. (A diagonal garden? Shouldn't it been neatly and squarely tucked into a corner?) But it all comes down to where we have the most sunlight, so diagonal it is. And, actually, it's looking like the best place for the beds would be... smack dab in the middle of the yard. We're taking time to figure it all out. I wouldn't be surprised if Michael pulls out a protractor at some point. This design stuff is all his territory.

While the planning is underway, today I planted arugula seeds in a small terracotta planter. The seeds are the ones I saved from the arugula I grew this year in our community garden plot. The old garden gives way to the new. How exciting it is to start growing food on the deck of our own home. I can't wait to do more. Much more.


Blogger Katie said...

Your first picture made me laugh! I have one that is almost identical to it, as I too have been in the (wonderful) predicament of siting a new bed.

Congrats on the new house with lack of sirens! (Been there too!)

Looking forward to hearing about all of your projects including replanting all of those cuttings you took...

9:29 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

silly question but is the bed going to be a raised bed for a kitchen garden? I'm trying to decide where mine should go next year. If it is for raised beds, do you plan to construct them this year or wait until next year? I debated about that and so far I've decided to save the wear and tear of sitting in the chicago snow and wait until next year.

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to see the 'before' pix, Christa. Starting a new project like this is terribly exciting. I wish you luck with it!

3:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry about putting the veg bed in the middle of the garden. Thats the way ours is here and it works fine - it even makes you make it look good so it's there for all to see!

5:00 AM  
Blogger Carol Michel said...

This is going to be fun wathcing your new garden take shape. Like Gina, I want to know if you are going with a big traditional garden or raised beds? And fall is the best time to prepare the soil so it will be already to go in early spring.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

6:22 AM  
Blogger bs said...

i just planted arugula too! these are seeds i saved from earlier in the year. it will be so interesting to watch your garden grow... congratulations on your move! hope you enjoy the new nest!

1:51 PM  
Blogger Ed Bruske said...

wow, that looks like a big space. nice

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck with your new garden. As a result of the permaculture course I'm studying I'm taking a different approach to my next vegetable bed. I'm building a quick "hot" compost in sitew and as soon as it is ready I'll take the sides away and make it the basis for my next garden bed. The Cambodian compost recipe I'm using can turn into soil within a month in hot weather but I suspect it will take substantially longer at this time of year. I've put a photo of it on my site

6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget to leave a space to sit and enjoy your wonderful new garden. And I love that it's smack dab in the middle of your yard! You don't want the grass anyway right? And if gardening is a big part of your life, it should also be a big part of your yard.
Take a look at this wonderful yard...

12:06 PM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

What fun to start on your new horticultural adventure, Christa!

My husband is a stake and measuring tape kind of guy, and I see yours is, too. Lucky you!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

10:47 PM  
Blogger Christa said...

All, thanks for visiting and leaving comments! I'm really excited about creating a new garden and sharing our adventures through the process.

Gina and Carol,
Yes, we are making raised beds for the kitchen garden. Our plan is to build the beds this fall (as soon as possible) so that we can transfer some of our plants from the community garden to here. Another goal is to reduce the lawn, so having the garden right in the middle will certainly help with that! :-)

9:21 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I'm so excited for you. Good luck breaking into this gardening adventure!

7:18 PM  
Blogger kate said...

I like the idea of a diagonal garden - sun matters a lot when you are veggie gardening.

It must be exciting starting from scratch in your new home. It's great that there was some good landscaping there. It makes it so much easier to put your own stamp on your gardens.

11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is so much fun to start all over again fresh and new.
BTW. I think a diagonal garden is just fine.
I'm in the middle of designing a spiral garden.

1:51 AM  
Blogger Matron said...

You have an exciting time ahead of you, not to mention the hard work. Have you found out what kind of soil you have in your new garden? Some people find that if you start a new veg patch under a lawn on 'virgin soil' it is the best crop of their life. Potatoes are a good start to break up the soil for you.

2:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


There is nothing better than a piece of ground. No better feeling even with the critters that attack our hard work at times.

Good luck.

8:52 PM  

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