May 15 – Crop Rotation

If you have been reading about Big Garden, by now, you may wonder what it looks like. I will describe some of it here and post pictures soon – it has been a big mess up to this point since, as you already know, I am bad at fall clean up. My profile picture is one view of it from last summer – probably from an overgrown state. I swear to learn to not overplant but can’t really help myself:  I like the cottage feel of the garden but it does not photograph well…
BG is 34′ across and 40′ deep; it was a good bit smaller when I first started in 1994 but I got inspired and expanded it once in 1997 and again about 4 years ago.
In 1994, I knew only what I learned from a triangular shaped garden I had when I was about 12 – we grew tomatoes, radishes, and lettuce as I recall, so I really didn’t learn much more than a love of gardening. I think I also grew something we called "love beads" that could be picked and strung into necklaces – this was the ’70s afterall.
In 1997, I had spent a few years studying gardening books each winter and drew a new plan. I knew I wanted paths, 4′ square raised beds (so I could sew, plant, weed etc without needing to step on the improved soil – raised above the clay by compost, peat moss etc), a symmetrical plan, herbs, and an artistic appearance that I would enjoy – productivity was important but I wanted beauty too.
The next expansion was to remove a back nursery area once the shrubs/bushes we had started there were moved to final locations. BG may be in its near-to-final arrangement:
A 3′ deep perrenial border runs across the front: about 1/3 of the way from the left edge, there is a 3′ x 3′ brick entrance with an antique wrought iron gate (found at an flea market) held up by two trellis posts that support Trumpet Vines. Either side of the gate, perennials have slowly filled in: irises, lambs ears, hollyhocks, chives, daylilies, bee balm, campanula, coreopsis, black-eyed susans, lily turf, purple coneflowers, peonies and foxgloves. I’ve tried so many other things but these are the survivors. If a hole exists, I stick in one of my volunteers – cosmos, cleome, borage, sunflowers, whatever.
Truthfully, I am still learning a lot about color and season planning, but this area is getting better with each year. I need to do some dividing and want to wrap the whole garden with a perennial border and a dilapidated (Beatrix Potter) white picket fence. There is a slight family disagreement over my need for more space so, expansion is slow.
More about the actual veggie beds soon!

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