grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kitchen Gardening Expansion: Day One A Virtual Bust

But let me explain...

2008_0919image0002 I'm the type of person who needs a lot of planning time.  By "planning time" I mean I need to see things drawn out on paper.  I need months to agonize over it.  I need people to tell me how I should design stuff so that I can disagree with them and haggle back and forth with them over trivial details until I finally achieve clarity or give up from  mental exhausted.  The reason I'm such a freakazoid over this stuff  is because I simply cannot stand the feeling of regret.  It's too uncomfortable for me - it makes me feel bad about myself and who needs that? 

I blame Pie Guy and GB for this unproductive gardening day.  You see, they've abandoned me.  We used to be able to spend a few minutes per day planning (arguing over) my next garden move but now GB has a new job and Pie Guy has gone off to medical school so I'm all along (cue the violin!)  Yes I know that we can still discuss by phone and email and it's not as though GB has moved to a whole different state preventing us from ever getting together (cough cough Pie Guy) but it's just not the same. 

2008_0919image0006 So yesterday I had my  what-if-my-design-sucks freak out, during the planned work session eliminating any chance at productivity.  Not a single plant was dug up, not a single blade of grass removed.  I mostly just sat on the patio staring at the area we'd marked off, hating the entire plan. 

I. My original plan

  1. Small enclosed kitchen garden area.
  2. Two 3x3 foot compost bins at the back by the privacy fence
  3. Four 4x4 raised beds.
  4. 3 foot path down the center of the two beds and 2 foot path around the rest.
  5. 1 foot raised beds on the left and right sides for strawberries.

II. Problems with original plan

  1. Small ended up being way bigger than I'd expected and I still have this ridiculous paranoia about grass removal.  Even though we've decided we're never moving, I can't stop thinking about resale.
  2. The space is entirely too big to only hold four 4x4 beds. 
  3. The paths, though very necessary, take up too much garden real estate.
  4. It makes my yard seem freakishly boxy, square, harsh.  The house is square, the patio is square, the garage is square, the basketball court is square and here I am inserting another square. 
  5. Surrounding the new garden with a fence seems like it would ruin the scale of the garden compared to the rest of the yard.
  6. I didn't want to move that many plants.  I thought I'd just need to move things from the Spirea to the Weigela but as it turns out I'd need to remove the Iris, Sweet Autumn Clematis and a bunch of other stuff.  I have not had any time at all to agonize over where that stuff should be relocated to.

III. Possible new plans (what's your favorite?)

  1. Scratch the fence all together and keep existing plan. see section I.
  2. Scratch fence and extend the garden further toward the house making it less square and giving me more raised beds.  Still move all the plants along the fence so that the compost area and raised beds are butted right up against the privacy fence. 
  3. Keep existing plants where the are (all along the fence) and place two 4x4 raised beds side by side along from the edge of the garage flower beds to the edge of the house foundation flower beds.  Make all paths 3 feet to accommodate little red wagon or make 3 foot path before each next set of 4x4 beds to accommodate little red wagon and 2 foot path up the center for walking.  Place narrow strawberry beds on each end in the front.  No fence.

Here's the problem.  I just ordered garlic and was really hoping to have a place to plant it but come to find out, it seems I'm so early in the decision making process that I can't imagine have a bed ready to go by the time it arrives. 


More posts about Kitchen Garden Expansion 2008

Prelude To A Kitchen Garden Expansion

Kitchen Garden Expansion: Before Picture


  1. I like elements of plan 2. The closer the garden is to your house, the more likely you are to spend time in it, and it is nice to just dash out to harvest and then right back to the kitchen. You still need nice wide paths.

    I know what you mean about digging up sod. Once you do that it feels like you can't turn back. But you could, just reseed...

    Good luck!
    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  2. Gina, I empathize. For me, it's painful having to choose one planting scheme out of all the possibilities I can imagine.

    I was going to say grass is cheap and easy to replace, but then I remembered you're in Chicago. I have no idea what kind of grass y'all plant there!

  3. Grass is cheap & easy to replace. Don't worry about that. I'm one of those people who can't understand when homeowners make improvements stricly for resale. I've always believed that you should get things the way you want so you can enjoy living in your house right now. To get around the square look, you could try turning the beds onto their points, like a baseball diamond. You can always just stuff the Garlic somewhere temporarily, but I would just prepare the beds now & leave them unplanted until spring.

  4. Regrets? I've had a few ...: ) Did ja get the handyman's opinion, too, Gina ?

    Seriously, sorry to hear that Pie Guy and GB are no longer there to bounce ideas off of. I know I go through a lot of agonizing until I settle on a plan.

    One thing I would ask is do you have a lot of time to devote to 4 vegetable garden beds? That seems a little ambitious and veggie gardening is intensive so keep that in mind. Maybe start with 2 ?

    I also seem to recall that you had rabbits in your yard? Are they still a problem ? If not you could dispense with the fencing.

    You could sweep a curve around the raised bed planters and instead of a formed path you could use pea gravel or compressed granite. An area of a foot and a half or two feet between planting beds is sufficient for a human. You can park your little red wagon on the grass and walk from there.

    Another thought is that you could place a curved iron trellis as an entrance to the kitchen garden and surround it with small evergreen boxwood. A nice vine on the trellis ( cucumber, squash, i.e.) would be nice as well.

    I would remove the plants near the fence and butt the kitchen garden as close to it as possible. You could continue the curve all the way around to the garage and re-plant your shrubs and perennials there.

    Hope these ideas help.

  5. Heather's GardenSeptember 21, 2008 at 3:03 PM

    First, like everyone's said, don't worry about replacing the grass. It's easy to grow from seed and not all that expensive if you need to hurry and plant sod.

    I wouldn't worry about too many boxes either. Of course, I like boxes, but once the plants come in it won't seem so boxy.

    Carolyn Gail makes a good point though, will you have time to tend that big a veggie garden? What about watering it? Make sure you included soaker hoses in your plan.

    I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

  6. I don't know if it's that I'm lazy or indecisive but I know I'm better off changing things in small increments than big swooping changes. I'm expanding my little garden this year too but only by a couple of feet on each side. And I'm cheating by basically putting mulch over the grass, and in a few weeks it's kinda dead and then I turn the soil over and I'll amend it for next year. Maybe the whole expansion is just overwhelming? Maybe try to prioritize and just take smaller steps? If you want to plant garlic soon set up a small area where you can do that now if you want. Then worry about the other stuff. Althought maybe that is promoting procrastination in a way too... Anyway, and if you make a mistake there aren't many that can't be fixed. You'll fix it if you're not happy with it right?

  7. Take a deep breath. What is the worst that could happen here? More gardens! Sounds good to me.

  8. It won't look nearly as square as you're thinking once you have stuff growing in it--the shapes of the plants will soften it, the colors and textures will distract, and you could do some vertical stuff with vines for an even greater effect. I have other thoughts, but it's late--I'll save the rest for the forums!

  9. The main thing I can stress to you, Gina, is that making more garden means more work; and what if you're sick, or way busy with work, or otherwise unable to work in your garden as much as you'd like? Then you get resentful of what you have, instead of being joyful.

    I'd look at what you really want/need, and go with those things first. As MMD notes, grass is cheap and easy to replace so don't stress yourself about that particular plant. And don't be in a huge hurry to get it all done at once. Better to work on individual projects that make you happy, than to get overwhelmed with seeing the big! picture! finished! ASAP!

    Whatever you choose to do, it will be just fine, Gina. Trust your instincts, too.

  10. I know what it's like to want to get started on something, have a plan, and then have it all go to pot. I wish I could tell you which plan is best, but I can't visualize it. Maybe we should all come visit?!