I am a planner. I really, really like spreadsheets, notebooks and lists. I especially like the feeling of checking things off my list. I am ashamed to admit that sometimes I even add points to my lists just to get extra check marks. (Make list, check! Complete first item, reward yourself with a cup of coffee, check! Do that thing that you actually already finished but are adding it to the list just to cross it off, check!) I can be impulsive, don’t get me wrong, but I like it when a good plan comes together. Despite my best efforts, life has thrown many curveballs at my plans. Career starts, start overs and changes, long commutes and time away from my family have taught me many hard lessons. New additions to our family have tested me and taught me things about myself I may never have known otherwise, wonderful and not so wonderful. Losses have proven to me how strong I actually can be. Moving around Canada has led me to appreciate home and family more than I could have ever imagined. What I have learned most is that despite my best laid plans, the experiences of actually “doing” are never what I had anticipated.
If everything happens for a reason, then I am so grateful to have met some truly amazing people, encountered sheer beauty and joy and been touched in ways no list or spreadsheet could ever capture. When faced with challenges that were nowhere to be found in columns a, b or c, I have had to learn to let go, give up my plans and embrace what God has laid out in his plans for me. As long as I have faith in myself, my family and God, I am never disappointed in the outcome, even if at the time the experiences have been painful or confusing.
Gardening has been no exception to the rule of “best laid plans….”! Each winter I plan out how our main growing season will look. I calculate the amount of compost or triple mix I need to order and I draw out planting diagrams based on last year’s crops (I try my best to rotate crops). I sort seeds collected and left over from last year and I start watching for sales on weed barriers, mulches and plant supports. I test soil pH levels and nutrients when the snow melts. I fill out calendars with planting dates and set up my indoor lights for seedlings. But I live in Nova Scotia! Anyone who lives on the east coast needs no explanation on why this is the main reason my plans need to be fluid. We have heat, we have cold. We have long periods without rain followed by hurricanes and hail in July. We have hungry wildlife! Each and every season has been different from the last for both veggies and flowers. Things pop up that I have no recollection of planting and some prized perennials never seem to reappear. Kids happen! Plants get picked, trampled, nibbled and drowned. It is all part of the experience. Regardless of the outcome, whether as planned or as complete surprises, my gardens and the time shared planning them and caring for them with my girls bring me growth, serenity, joy and clarity that I could never plan for; nor would I wish to. It amazes me what life brings when I unplug, go outside and just be present in the moment, watching plans unfold.
This is the “plan” for this year’s main veggie garden compared to last years – this is very fluid:
*** I have used some great online planners in years past, though I find it easiest to just do it by hand. The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Mother Earth News and Garden Supply Company have some great plans! Niki Jabbour from Nova Scotia has also written a great book called Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change The Way You Grow Your Garden, that I can’t wait to read…
I will need this much compost and extra soil to make sure I have 12 inches of good soil in most of the beds***:
Triple mix – Width – 16 feet x Length – 30 feet x Depth – 3 inches = 4.44 cubic yards for main garden
– Width – 4 feet x Length – 16 feet x Depth – 3 inches = 0.60 cubic yards for garden beside shed
Garden soil – Width 2 feet x Length 40 feet x 12 inches = 2.96 cubic yards for additional section to be added to finish the raised beds at the back of the main garden
***I use the soil calculator on Kel Ann Organic’s website
– 24 feet of 3/4 inch PVC to complete raised bed tunnel for early greens, I already have lots of 6mm vapour barrier left
– Bird netting/rabbit barrier for blueberries and strawberries
– Trellis wire for grape supports (last year’s snapped…)
– 12 x 6 foot bamboo stakes for pole beans and tomatoes
– 1 roll chicken wire to attach to frame of squash house
– 4-5 bales of clean straw
– 3-4 rolls of black bio film mulch
– 1 bale of peat moss for blueberries to raise acidity slightly
– Some form of posts and 3 feet of barrier to keep out racoons and bunnies….hmmmmm…..not sure about this one yet. These cute little critters give us all nightmares!
Next Step…Seed planning. But that is a whole ‘nother story!!
“If plan A fails, remember that you have 25 letters left!” ~ Author Unknown