One of the first outdoor farm projects in 2021 is getting the vegetable garden going. I would ideally like a garden that produces year-round and, at minimum, provides most or all of my own produce. I would sell or donate any excess but this would NOT be a focus. The vegetable garden is not a money maker but rather a labor of love for my own pleasure and my own food. Anything it can do beyond that is bonus!
Although I do not expect the farm vegetable garden to be a money maker, I would like to set it up in a way that the different plots of land within the garden can be rested or crop rotated as needed. This will require a bit of forethought and planning (e.g., will there always be some fallow land that is resting or being prepared for use). I would also like to be able to use the chickens to provide natural fertilizer and soil amendments, as possible. And like my chickens, I would like the vegetable garden to be visually beautiful and its own refuge. Can I incorporate some sitting areas or swings? What kind of pathways will I create? Can I also plant flowers and herbs and plants that attract pollinators to mix in an among the vegetables?
So let’s see. I would like the farm’s vegetable garden to:
- Provide most or all of my own vegetables.
- Be large enough that I will have excess for preserving (e.g., canning, freezing, etc). or giving away to others.
- Designed in a way that the various plots within the garden can be rested and crops appropriately rotated while still allowing for optimal positioning of specific crops relative to the sun and all the other plants and crops in the garden (e.g., think about which plots are fallow, which plant which crops in which years, and how that looks in each variation of those variables)
- Designed in a way that the chickens could be allowed to roam any of the garden plots that are fallow or contain crops or plants they cannot harm.
- Designed with comfortably wide and even pathways for both walking through and enjoying the garden in addition to tending to the garden. Wheelbarrows and other wheeled equipment may need to go on and through those paths, including in wet weather.
- Designed with nooks and crannies for sitting or swinging or lying in a hammock or otherwise enjoying the garden. With that in mind, providing shade through plants or trees or buildings or other will be necessary for much of the year.
OK, so that is going to be a big design project – whew!! But before I get my head all tied in knots figuring that part out, it might help to decide what I would like to plant in the garden. It would also be good to think about where to plant the garden. Let’s start with what I might want to plant.
Note to self and others —> I am not committing to planting all of the things I want to plant in 2021. That would be crazy!! However, I would like to design the garden to accommodate all the things I might eventually want to plant, and to think about how the garden could/would expand over time as needed.
Vegetables I would like to plant include the following. I have not checked whether all of these are good growers in Mississippi, but I believe they would all be OK:
- Black-eyed peas
- Butter / lima beans
- Sweet corn
- Brussel sprouts
- Yellow summer squash
- Acorn winter squash
- Beets – red and maybe also gold
- Rutabagas (maybe, cuz I do like them roasted)
- Slicing tomatoes
- Cherry tomatoes
- Bell peppers – green, red and yellow or orange
- Onions – white, yellow red
- Shallots / green onion bunches
- Baking potatoes
Fruit and melons I would like to plant include the following. Again, I have not checked whether all of these are good growers in Mississippi. A few of these, like strawberries and blueberries, I am less certain about; whereas I know the melons would be fine.
- Likely some specialty melon, like a Golden Dewlicious
- A fig tree / bush somewhere in there
Lettuces and greens I would like to plant include:
- Romaine lettuce (e.g., Parris Island)
- Iceberg lettuce (e.g., Ithaca)
- Nevada summer crisp lettuce
- Butter oak lettuce
- White & red cabbage
- Collards and/or mustard greens
Herbs and such I would like to plant include:
- Lavender (cuz it smells so good and bees love it)
- Bergamot (bees adore it)
- Chamomile (pretty flowers, good tea)
Lastly, in addition to the good flowering from the herbs and other plants, I would like to plant flowers as well. This part is less well-considered, but maybe flowers can be a “resting” crop for some of the plots?? Regardless, I want to attract plenty of pollinators and having fresh cut flowers would be lovely as well.
The flowers under consideration for planting include:
- Zinnias (Benary Giants and/or Magellans)
- Yarrow (various colors)
- Purple lace flowers
- Sky blue delphinium
- Tulips & daffodils for spring
Not much to plant, huh??
*Thanks to Kelly Neil on Unsplash for the lovely featured image photo.