I love a good long-term plan! It is January, the first month of the year and a perfect time to lay out a few plans
–master plans, flowerbed plans, kitchen garden plans, and seed-starting plans!
In our newsletters this month, we discuss how to create a garden journal. Each week we cover a “chapter” and provide printable documents and charts to include in your personal journal. What a fun project it has been! A garden journal is not only about documenting current events in a garden, but also about using that information as a plan for the next season’s garden and even the season after that! So far, we have reviewed some basic garden design concepts and have encouraged people to create their own garden design.
The first thing I did when my family and I moved into our home (well, after I replaced the electric stove with a gas stove) was to create a master garden design. I probably needed more improvements than most (we purchased a run down 1970s ranch on one acre for a steal!), but I had fallen in love with the property more than the house itself. I calmed my husband Curtis by simply saying, “It has potential, and we do potential well.” After showing my daughter my master plan, she mocked me with, “It will never look like that!”
There was a lot of cleaning up to do before we could implement my design. I spent the first two years removing dead trees and cutting down fence posts. Curtis and his dad had a good time pulling down the chicken coop (which had been placed in the middle of the yard and was falling down, anyhow) with his dad’s truck and a large chain. Then the day finally came when we could start implementing pieces of my master plan. First came the play yard and sand box. Then the flowerbeds where laid out, and the outlines of the lawn were drawn so the area could be filled with seed. My daughter’s skepticism was eroding!
The master garden plan drawing kept me from installing features that would be hard to remove in places I’d later want to use for other things. My potting shed is a perfect example. I had always dreamed of having a kitchen garden with a cute potting shed surrounded by a picket fence. Normally, I would put in the fence first, but since I didn’t have the funds for the fence and I couldn’t be without my veggie garden, I installed raised beds first. The fence came two years later followed by the water lines and compost bins. After a while, I still wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to build my dream potting shed. I was tempted several times to put something in its place, but because my garden design reminded me of my master plan, I made sure to use the space for only non-permanent things like leaf piles and such. When I finally had saved enough to build my shed (eight years later), it was as though it had always been there–the raised vegetable beds fit perfectly around it, the compost bins behind it, and the water lines next to it. I had stuck to the plan, and it paid off. I am so glad I persevered and saved the space!
Having a plan is indeed a beautiful thing, especially when it finally all comes together. Make a plan, draw it out with as much detail as you can, and then start chipping away at it as you are able. Save the spaces you need for future ideas. It may not unfold in a season or even two, but if you keep working on it, it can happen just like you drew it out. When my daughter needs motivation, I remind her of her doubtful “It will never look like that.” I ask her to look out the window at the garden, and then I say to her, “It will, if you work at it a little every season.”
What is your vision for a garden or other project?