Garden Plan and Sowing Schedule for 2020

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It’s time! It’s time! It’s finally appropriate to share plans, drawings, ideas, dreams and whatnot related to this little plot of land we love so dearly, and we couldn’t be more excited. In other words, sit back, relax and enjoy: this is our master plan for our growing year of 2020.

What’s new? Well, we have a whole new garden area at our disposal this season, as opposed to last. You can read all about the creation of it in this A Hugelkultur-Inspired New Addition to Our Garden blog post, but a short summary would go something like this: we dug, dug some more, dug even more, and then finally ended up with two new, slightly raised, long patches measuring about 6.0×0.8 m (and please keep in mind one of us did this while not only pregnant and in the worst nausea-phase of them all, but also with a freshly fractured foot in an orthotic boot wrapped in a plastic bag. Not fishing for sympathy or anything). 

With this new area, we’re almost doubling (well, not quite but close enough) our farmable space. These new patches provide us with a total of 10 m2 of additional area, which will be added to two smaller patches of roughly 2-3 m2 each, ten garden boxes of 1.5 m2 each (if these intrigue you, please see our Guide to Building Your Own Garden Boxes blog post for all the details) and a small greenhouse of about 4 m2 where we only keep potted plants, and… well, we’re beginning to feel pretty pleased. Not entirely satisfied, of course (what’s up with gardeners and the never-ending desire to expand?), but at least very pleased. Conclusively, we have about 30 m2 of space + the greenhouse (in which we typically fit 15-20 pots and then can’t get into), and know – with two growing seasons under our belt – that this is sufficient to provide us with practically all the vegetables we need for at least six months out of the year (potatoes excluded). And that, everyone, feels nothing short of extraordinary to be able to say – we were total beginners two years ago, more or less unable to tell a cucumber plant from a tomato, and now live with our garden as our most precious companion. We know far from everything, need to look things up constantly and question many decisions we make, but we do have some sort of general understanding for how one grows vegetables today, which we completely lacked a few years back. The overall terminology, the basic knowledge when it comes to soil and soil health and the courage to experiment a bit have all fallen into place bit by bit, and we also aren’t as nervous as we were that first year. It’s amazing how just some experience, reading and the inevitable rounds of trial and error (+ heaps of passion and joy) can get you this far in just two years’ time.

We can both recall when we designed our garden for the first time (the 2018 season), and have actually kept the drawings from that year. They serve as a great reminder as to how far we’ve come, and we can’t help but to laugh when we see how we planned things and the notes we kept. In other words, if you feel like a total beginner: fear not. Give your growing adventure a season or two, and you’ll feel completely differently. Growing your own food and caring for a patch of land is the most rewarding task ever, and we recommend everyone to give it a go.

And while our plan is to grow vegetables with joy for the rest of our lives, let’s now look at what 2020 will bring our way. To begin with, these are all the different varieties we’ll grow this season:

Vegetables

Tomato (Brandywine + Red Pearl + Ida Gold)
Cucumber (Moneta + Beth Alpha)
Pointed bell pepper (Ferenc Tender)
Eggplant (Diamond)
Summer squash (Dark fog)
Winter squash (Sweet Reba + Delicata)
Green curly kale (Westland Winter + Curly Half-tall)
Dino kale (Nero di Toscana)
Broccoli (Calabrais + Waltham)
Pak choi (Bonsai)
Spinach (Bloomsdale LS)
Chard (Five Colors + Fordhook Giant)
Lettuce (Kragraner)
Scallions (Ishikura Long)
Red onions (Long Red Florence)
White onion (Musona)
Garlic (can’t remember the name)
Corn (Double Standard + Sweet Corn)
Green beans (Provider + Sunray + Saxa)
Purple beans (Royal Burgundy)
Sugar snap peas (Cascadia)
Snow peas (Norli)
Parsnips (White Gem)
Carrots (Nantaise 2 + Laguna + Purple Haze)
Potatoes (varieties not yet determined)
Jerusalem artichokes (no name known)
Sweet potatoes (no name known)

Annual herbs

Dill (Tetra)
Parsley (Gigante di Napoli)
Basil (Genovese)
Cilantro (Marino)

Flowers

Cornflower mix (midget and regular)
California poppies
Lady phacelia
Cosmos
Poppies
Calendula

Perennials

Roman chamomile (we grow this for tea)
Peppermint
Green mint
Oregano
Tarragon
Thyme
Sage
Rosemary (we keep these in pots and store them above freezing during the winter)
Lavender

*We’ll only do edamame beans if we unexpectedly end up with a free corner somewhere. Our yield last year turned out very small, hence we won’t give them priority this season.

New vegetables for us this year include sweet potatoes (massive experiment), eggplant, snow peas, garlic, lettuce and pak choi. Onions we tried and failed in 2018, but this year, we’ll go all in and follow all the guidelines we can come across. Having fresh onions to throw on the grill in the summer, and then store some for the winter sounds like a dream.

We’ll keep eggplant (about 3-4 plants), cucumber (5-6 plants), pointed peppers (5-6 plants) and some (but far from all) tomatoes in our greenhouse. The rest of the veggies will be outside, but we’ll keep the sweet potatoes under some sort of cover most of the time. They’re not the biggest fans of our colder Nordic climate with plenty of daylight, so we’re planning on creating a mini version of a poly tunnel that we’ll attach to the box. All members of the cabbage family (kale, broccoli and pak choi) will be kept under cabbage nets to keep unwelcome critters such as cabbage moths and cabbage butterflies out. Besides that, it’ll all be uncovered except for the early season, when it might be a little chilly still. We have sheets of row cover and metal arch supports ready for those instances. Basil will be growing in pots on the deck, where it’ll get maximum sun and can easily be brought inside during the night if the weather is cold, cilantro will be placed in a small dug herb patch next to the oregano, and dill and parsley (which we like to grow larger quantities of and then freeze), you’ll spot in the plans below. We’ll be doing two rounds of sowing in a few places, which has been indicated in the plans as well. Also, we put huge emphasis on creating a pollinator-friendly garden, which explains why there is space allocated for plenty of different (carefully selected) flowers, too. That’s really all there’s to it – let’s take a look at what it’ll all look like!

That’s the plan. We can’t wait until it’s time to tiptoe barefoot outside and see what’s for dinner, or hear the bees happily buzzing around the flowers bringing color and beauty to it all. A precious time is ahead of us, there’s no doubt about that, and we’ll make sure to make the most out of every second. A small detail that seems appropriate to mention is that we’re expecting our first child in May, which of course will have a large or small impact on how we can carry out all of our ideas. With that in mind, we think careful planning will be key (the drawings are very helpful as we go along), and we’ll try to have as much as possible ready and prepared come May-time. Below, you’ll see a rough outline as to our sowing schedule – what we pre-cultivate indoors vs. what we sow directly, and when we choose to do so. Some you see appear in several times – this is because we do several sowings of certain plants. You’ll also see others appear as both direct-sowing and pre-cultivated plants – this is simply because we’ll do both (this is a nice way to get more of a staggered harvest).

Pre-cultivation indoors

February: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, sweet potato (put to sprout – will be planted outside in June)
March: red and white onion, scallions, green kale, dino kale, broccoli, pak choi, lettuce, potatoes (put to sprout – will be planted outside around early May)
April: corn, summer squash, winter squash, basil, cucumber, cosmos, sugar snap peas, green/purple beans, cilantro
May: green kale, dino kale, broccoli
June: lettuce, pak choi, snow peas

Direct sowing outdoors

(November: garlic)
March: spinach, carrots, parsnips, parsley, dill, lettuce
April: Jerusalem artichokes, lettuce, pak choi, poppies (California + regular), calendula, cornflower, lady phacelia
May: lettuce, chard, green/purple beans, carrots, poppies (California + regular), calendula, cornflower, lady phacelia
June: none
July: spinach, carrots

Thank you for staying with us until the very end – and good luck with your own growing endeavors this year! We’ll publish a “Vegetable Gardening for Beginners” guide before spring rolls in for real, as well, so stay tuned in case that sounds like something relevant for you. Until then, dream big and take care of our planet!

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