My 2011 Vegetable Garden

savvyhousekeeping my 2011 vegetable garden planning what to plant spring
This post is more relevant than ever, I suppose, since world food prices rose 2.2% in February, reaching a record peak. Yikes!
I am getting better at gardening all year long. Right now, for example, I have leeks, mustard greens, arugula, and chard from the garden, as well as two full lemon bushes and 2-3 chicken eggs a day. The fava beans plants are also tall and healthy, but probably won’t produce until April and May.
Of course the real time to plant is in the spring. Last weekend, as I mentioned, I sowed some seeds indoors. That required me to think about what I wanted to plant this year, which led me to plan my 2011 vegetable garden.
My garden is my science experiment and biology classroom. I learn so much just from watching it, and every year I try a new experiment to learn something new. Last year, I harvested my own seeds for the first time, finally figured out how to get rid of gophers, tried cardboard mulching, and realized the benefits of planting in groups instead of monocultures.
The last point was a tiny revelation for me. Most people put the same plant in long rows, thus creating mini-monocultures in their garden. I did this until last year, when I tried grouping different plants together in rows–a mustard plant beside a carrot beside a bean, etc.–and I found that it reduced pest damage to any one crop. If the same plant is in a long row, there’s nothing to stop a bug from indulging in an all-you-can-eat smörgåsbord. If the same plant is staggered between other plants, the pest has to search around to find more of the same, and thus is less likely to do as much damage.
In 2011, I’m going to take this concept to another level by experimenting with companion planting. I read a book on the subject called Carrots Love Tomatoes, which led to all kinds of great ideas:
savvyhousekeeping my 2011 vegetable garden planning what to plant spring

I know some people are skeptical about companion planting, but it makes sense to me because it’s closer to how plants act in nature. Wild plants don’t grow in monocultures, they grow in groups with other plants. If we can imitate how nature works in the garden, we get healthier, happier plants–or that’s the theory, anyway. We’ll see how it goes.
Here is what I am planting in 2011, in the groupings I’m considering:

    Corn
    Kentucky Green Beans (to grow up the corn stalks)
    Cucumbers (between the cornstalks)
    Strawberry
    Spinach (apparently these plants are “friends.”)
    savvyhousekeeping my 2011 vegetable garden planning what to plant spring
    Bell Peppers
    Jalapenos
    Basil (turns out basil and peppers use the same water and light, so grow well together)
    Zucchini (in groups together because they have to cross pollinate)
    Butternut squash (the same)
    Crane melons (too sprawling to pair with anything else)
    3 Tomato plants (brandy wine, a beefsteak, and some kind of heirloom.)
    Nasturtium (I’ll put these edible flowers in as a ground cover around the tomatoes.)
    savvyhousekeeping my 2011 vegetable garden planning what to plant spring
    [This Garden Is Illegal]
    Peas (snap beans)
    Beans (probably haricots, i.e. French green beans)
    Carrots
    Leeks
    Radishes (alternating in some way)
    Large sunflowers (I want to group these with something, but haven’t decided what)
    Lettuce (radicchio, endive, arugula, etc. They will be planted in the shade of other plants–by the raspberries or between the tomatoes, etc.)


Vegetable that won’t be going in the main garden:

    Potatoes
    Beets (I’m putting these in containers to keep the gophers out)
    Chard (I find chard does great in the shadow of big herbs like rosemary)
    Artichokes (I’m putting these in the front flower garden bed because they are perennials)
    Bulb fennel (I LOVE fennel, but it is a gopher magnet, so I will probably put these somewhere away from the vegetable garden so that if they attract gophers, I won’t be directing them to an all-you-can-eat buffet)
    savvyhousekeeping my 2011 vegetable garden planning what to plant spring
    [La Tavola Marche]
    Sunchokes/Jerusalem artichoke (A new plant for me. Not sure where to put these, but they will go somewhere.)
    Asparagus (Another new plant. It’s a perennial, so will need a permanent spot)

I’m still thinking, but this is the basic plan. I can’t wait to get out there!
What are you planting in 2011?

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11 thoughts on “My 2011 Vegetable Garden”

  1. I had a teeny tiny garden last year – only 4’x1′ and up against the backyard fence, but it was enough to plant three heirloom tomatoes, several beets, four garlic plants and two mysterious plants that turned out to be cantaloupe and pole beans (thanks to homemade compost!). I miss my little garden, and though I may not get started on one as early as I would like this year due to an impending move in the next month or so. This is inspiring to read – my biggest problem was figuring out the space to maintain all the plants I wanted to grow! Good luck with your garden this year. I’m looking forward to seeing its progress! 🙂

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  2. Last year was my first true attempt at gardening from seed, so I did lots of research. I’ve read some about companion planting, but still have lots to learn. Didn’t know about basil and peppers or spinach and strawberries. Thanks for that! I have some june-bearing strawberries in a long window-box not doing much of anything right now. Wonder if I can poke some spinach seeds in there for some succession spinach plants.
    I’ve listed what I’m planting on my blog here: http://www.cultivatingconscience.com/2011/02/hello-seedlings-spring-is-coming/
    Happy gardening!

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  3. Companion planting does work great! another REALLY awesome book, especially for people with limited space,,,is ‘Square Foot Gardening’ by Mel Bartholomew
    Another little tip with gopher issues,,,is you can use chicken wire, make little ‘baskets’ for like bulbs etc. placing in the ground, then fill with your soil and plant. It has to the smaller hole wired though. One draw back to this, is if you use for like certain edible plants, you would need to make sure to remove your wire at the end of the season, it will eventually rust out. and then you have bits of wire in your garden. BUT it is highly recommended for plants like tulips which gophers not only LOVE,,,they will re-deposit in other areas too for you.

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  4. Thanks guys! I’m glad you like the post.
    Connie, I never thought of making my own gopher baskets–I usually buy them–but of course, that makes sense. Thanks for the tip, and for the book suggestion.

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  5. I would advise putting the Jerusalem artichokes in a container as well- they are prolific, and if you leave even a tiny piece of root, it will become a weed.. I planted some last year, and they have over wintered well in the container. And they’re way easier to find when I want them. My other advice is that you want to store them in soil (the pot they grow in)- they stay the freshest that way. Trying to store them in the fridge long term has always been a heartbreak for me as they go south quickly! 🙁
    Also, let me know if you would like to share or swap seeds- I have some heirlooms that I got from the Seed Bank, but they came with a lot more than I could use in the next couple of years!

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  6. Pingback: Savvy Housekeeping » Companion Planting: Three Sisters
  7. some people in my neighborhood have a wild, beautiful garden where lush morning glories climb huge sunflowers. it is beautiful, and i always walk down their alley so i can peek at their garden.

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  8. Savvy Housekeeper,
    I was wondering how your Kentucky pole beans are doing with your corn? Also, does companion gardening help keep weeds down?

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  9. Lisa, I had some trouble getting the beans started because of snails, but the ones that made it are doing great. The only thing I don’t like about it is that the beans wind around the corn cobs too, which looks like it will make them hard to pick–I probably will just plant beans with poles next year.
    Companion planting reduces weeds only in the sense that you are sometimes planting closer together and there’s less room for weeds to grow. Also, if you use certain plants as a ground cover–for example, I am planting nasturtium near my tomatoes–it can suppress weeds.

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