Planning the Potager

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When you have almost 12 acres of potential gardening space, deciding what to put where can be quite a daunting task. The obvious location here would be the existing garden beds, to a normal person. But I'm not a normal person. I overthink everything and send my current thoughts to the future where the outcome of every potential option plays out. My brain is tired a lot. When I was in Ohio in March, I measured the current beds and took lots of pictures in anticipation of having to decide what to plant from 1,800 miles away. Call me crazy, but I am not missing a growing season just because we aren't arriving full time until it is well past planting season. I scheduled a special trip back the 1st week of May just to put the garden in so we can have things moving along. Ok, it's not just to put in the garden. Some walls need painting because a certain someone (me?) put big color patches all over the place during her last trip there because she doesn't like the current wall colors. It will be easier to paint those rooms sans furniture for sure, and we want to be OUTSIDE in June. Inside work is for when the weather is not amazingly beautiful, like it is in Ohio in June. So a painting and planting trip it is.  After much contemplation (and visions of imminent doom), I have decided not to plant anything directly in the garden beds yet. With them already being there, and mostly ready besides needing tilling, this probably sounds insane. But I have a plan and some solid reasoning. Hear me out.

That's a deer track in a garden bed.

That's a deer track in a garden bed.

For three weeks after the seeds are in the ground we won't be there to shoo the wildlife away. We saw deer tracks in the garden, then witnessed them eating weeds out of it. Add squirrels, birds, and whatever else likes seeds to the mix, and we aren't likely to even get them sprouting let alone survive to harvest. This sounds like a lot of work for naught. I ain't got time for that. In Phoenix if I didn't contain my garden like a fortress ready for invasion at any minute everything was eaten. There will be a learning curve to gardening in Ohio, but I'm going to run on the assumption everything else wants to eat our garden as much as we do.

Our Phoenix fortress/garden. There's green stuff in it! It worked!

Our Phoenix fortress/garden. There's green stuff in it! It worked!

The current garden beds are just exposed giant swatches of earth without grass in them. There is no fencing, no netting, no paths through them so you can plant/harvest without stepping all over the rest of the garden (or in mud if it's wet out). Our dogs will also completely destroy them. We are going to run an electric perimeter around our property so we can keep them away from the garden, but that doesn't keep out the neighborhood dogs (and cats), so a real fence is necessary. This trip is not the time for fence building though.

I'm not currently physically capable of taking care of them. It's true. I am a 33 year old that can't spend that much time kneeling on the ground. I've been asking myself recently if I'm really fit enough to accomplish everything we're setting out to tackle, and the answer right now is no. Some of it is old injury, some of it is needing to get my back, legs, and core stronger so I can withstand tougher physical tasks. I put my hip out moving salt to the basement in March. Thankfully it was a Thursday, and a chiropractor from Chillicothe does adjustments in the local feed store on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I've begun working on the sad state of my physical abilities, so hopefully this will not be the case this time next year.

I'm already sketching out fence locations, and areas to convert into raised beds so hopefully next spring this can be the main location for the potager. I love where the current beds are because we can enjoy the view from the great room and the master. This will someday be a beautiful, serene, area to enjoy getting my hands dirty. Until then, I'm going to plant our entire garden in containers on the front and back porch.

I know, a container garden doesn't sound ideal, but since I want it to survive through our arrival I think that is my best bet. I found some really inexpensive and good sized grow bags, and nice reusable pots for starters. I also found some great decorative buckets, towers, and wall mounted planters that will be both functional and beautiful. The front porch and back deck are the two places I plan to spend the most time, so starting the garden there is the most logical. The grow bags and starter pots will allow us to transplant after the fence is up, or they are large enough for things like tomatoes, bell peppers, and zucchinis we could choose to leave them in the bags on the deck this year. Next year everything can be reused to start seeds inside before the last frost, and eventually will be used in the future greenhouse for almost year round growing. So these items are really a small investment in our future garden. Trust me, $100 or so on reusable pots is small potatoes compared to what we would spend to fill our tiny raised garden beds in Arizona with soil and fertilizer. In Ohio I'll be able mix compost with the earth already present to fill the pots and bags. I'll get a few things to fertilize with since our compost won't really be ready this year, and buy some mulch since I don't have the equipment to make my own yet. I don't expect this year's garden to save us money on our grocery bill, but hoping the foundation I'm laying will save us in future years. I intentionally didn't set a budget for this project because I want to make sure I do it right without corner cutting. 

While we're gone all the pots will be moved to the back deck with our handy dandy aerocart. It's a large space protected from wind, but doesn't have a covering so rain can water the seedlings. I'm also hoping that since there are steps up to it it will discourage animals from wandering up to them and I'll put some streamers up to scare the birds away. Jared's parents are planning to mow the grass for us at least once in our three week absence, so they will be watered if it's been a dry spring. So far though it hasn't been very dry there.

If it all goes south and nothing lives I'll be sad, but we'll soldier on. This homestead will be a comedy of errors and tragedy. The best I can do is try to make it happen, which is something I'll always do despite the risk for failure.

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This post contains ads & affiliate links (this links to our full disclosure about browser cookies, and way more than you probably wanted to know about ads and affiliate marketing). We make a small commission when you purchase from some of the links shared in this post. Making a purchase from a link will not cause you to pay more or affect your purchase in any way. It will however, support our wildest farmin' dreams, which is mighty awesome of you.