{Food and Gardening} Garden Planning and Zoning

Garden Planning:

Planning a garden, while very important, has never been my strong suit.  If a plant is free, I take it home, and years of being a plant slut have made an impact on my gardening space.   A  50 ft x 60 ft fenced area, crammed with herbs, perennials, old fashioned roses and annuals without much thought put into planning.  A vegetable plot here and there.  Lots of raspberries and strawberries.  Higgledy piggledy plots of flowers and somewhat erratic rows of lettuces and carrots.  Sufficient space for a table and chairs to chat with friends and drink wine.  The garden has long been my domain and it is a wonderful space filled with the scents of lavender and thyme, the soft buzz of honeybees and the vibrant hues of blooming roses.  But not much planning or zoning occured.


At one time, I was homeschooling our five older children and gardening was more of a supervisory duty.  Overseeing the labor force as they dug and weeded, harvested and complained.  But time marches on;  the indentured servants grew up, declared their emancipation from garden chores and departed for college.  Gardening with children is a rewarding activity and I miss their company.  Their assistance in the garden now consists of occasional visits, where they eat my raspberries and steal ripe tomatoes.  Or just loll about in the garden chairs, drinking beer and reminiscing how hard they had to work as kids while comparing their latest wireless devices.



It was the realization of the labor in maintaining a garden of this size by myself, coupled with a shoulder injury that compelled me to invite my husband to join me in the garden.  This was done with great trepidation; to declare that we have different gardening styles is a wild understatement.  Gardening to him is the production of Real Food.  He does not consider rose petal jelly, spearmint leaf tea or  raspberry jam to be Real Food.  Condiments, at best.   I, on the other hand preserve vast amounts in preparation for the winter tea and crumpets season.   He believes in neatly plotted beds.  Mine are more of the, ‘Just dig it in over there…’ style of planning.  His concepts of Order, Level, Plumb, Straight and Functional, as well as his commitment to growing wholesale quantities of Real Food would create big changes for sure.  Not the least of which would be the imposition of the dreaded Order.



His Zone My Zone

With my heart in my throat, I watched as he charged through the garden gate last spring to prepare his zone of the garden for the cultivation of Real Food.  Armed with various implements, such as tape measure, string line, level (A level…Really?) he set about transforming his zone of the garden.  There are no signsposts indicating His Zone and My Zone, but the zones are quite apparent.  He thrashed the raspberry thicket into tidy rows.  Constructed potato boxes.  His corn sprouted in tight formation like a platoon of US Marines.  Lettuces and carrots  in perfectly straight rows; each end neatly pegged.  From my garden zone, I occasionally  overheard mutterings about slope and gradient, subsurface water and soil pH and I wondered to myself,  ‘hmmmm…do those words even apply in a garden context?’  In my zone, the snow in the summer bloomed riotously and the poppies sprawled over into the pumpkins.  However, as the garden season progressed, Real Food grew in abundance in his zone.





To my suprise, in addition to an abundance of Real Food, we spent many a companionable summer evening in the garden.  The differences in our garden styles notwithstanding, we began to  enjoy our garden time.  Chatting amiably from our respective zones and sharing the days events with one another.  And then, some evenings, I would just loll in one of the garden chairs, drinking wine, offering unsolicited advice and watching him weed or water…



Looking back, I realized when I gave up my notions of a  garden style and allowed him space to garden in  his own way, I benefitted.   Not only do I have help in maintaining the garden, I  have an abundance of Real Food.  But my favorite benefit is a renewed friendship with a man I adore while engaging in one of our favorite activites.  Which is gardening, of course…



Do you have a decided way of being or point view about a part of your life?  What difference would a shift of opinion make in your life and your commitments?  Would an openess to change make sharing your passion about the environment easier?


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  1. DustinbinCards Oldest Daughter says:

    As one of your children, I really appreciate the fact that you distinguished that gardening is you and dad’s favorite activity. Pretty sure there are some things we just don’t need to know.

  2. annamelina says:

    Great article and love the pics!

  3. JustLorrie says:

    Glad to hear your garden (and marriage) are blooming! I’ll be right over…

  4. Blackthumb says:

    This is very interesting. I always thought planting and growing various flowers and “Real Food” took structure and order (although all this has brought me is dead or dying foliage/flowers), but it seems that you were quite successful for many years with your “Just dig it in over there…’ style of planning”, as you coined it. Maybe I should try that and perhaps end my years of plant execution.

  5. What a beautiful story!!! Thank you for sharing with all of us.

  6. This story is dynamite. You are a talented writer, and I hope you write many, many more posts in the future

  7. Really enjoyed this gardening blog! My husband and I have different gardening styles, also; but part of the enjoyment is sharing our love for the outdoors and our special gardens.

    • It really is a pleasure to share time yardening, isn’t it? And it is ever so nice to have him available when I need to have a big rock shifted.