I’m Not Going to Plant That Way {Just Because You Said I Should}

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I’m Not Going to Plant That Way {Just Because You Said I Should}

There’s this unspoken pressure on a gardener. You have to do X, Y, and Z if you want to do it right. It’s no wonder that new gardeners get overwhelmed or give up after the first season. Can I let you in on a little secret? There are no rules. Take those books and throw them out the window (okay, they might have some valuable information, so don’t throw them, just set them aside). I’m just saying that every garden is as unique as the person who plants it.

Every garden is as unique as the person who plants it. If you want to try something new, do it! If you want to plant a hundred of this and none of that, go for it!

If you want to try something new, do it! If you want to plant a hundred of this and none of that, go for it!

I’m not going to plant it because you say I should.

I have spent a lot of time planting the foods I’m suppose to. I mean, what’s an organic, permaculture, self-sufficient garden without brussel sprouts? You aren’t a real gardener unless your garden has 200 plant species in it, right? I hate brussel sprouts and I’m getting sick and tired of processing or unloading vegetables I don’t even like. All these things I’m planting because I’m suppose to are stealing space from the things I enjoy eating, resulting in smaller crops of things I enjoy.

Here’s what I want you to do. Make a list of vegetables that your family actually eats and that will grow in your area. Now is not the time to say maybe if I plant it, I’ll grow to like it. Go to your pantry and see what you’ve bought. Think over the dinners you’ve eaten in the last month; what was in them? Those are the things you should be planting. I don’t care how long your list is or how big your garden is. You can do 100 square feet of potatoes if you want. I won’t judge. They last well in storage.

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My vegetable plot is about 1,000 square feet and I plan to grow only a handful of vegetable varieties. We enjoy pickles, so I’ll be planting some cucumbers (but only a few because I grow old of pickling after a few batches). Potatoes are a good staple for us, so I want to do a lot of them. Broccoli is great for freezing and drying, and we use it in soups and as a vegetable side at dinner. I’ll make sure I have that too. What I won’t have is obscure vegetables that I don’t know what to do with: kohlrabi, mizuna, and romanesco. I have grown them all and although they look pretty and I get compliments on them, I have no use for them.

I’m not going to plant in that layout because you said I have to.

The gardening forums are filled with gardeners that insist that their method of garden layout is the best. They all have their science to back planting in rows versus plots, or raised versus in ground. We all want a good harvest, but does the technique really impact the backyard garden that much. It doesn’t. Not by enough to matter.

I really enjoy meandering through my flower gardens. There a little of this here and here. A little of that here and here. It’s casual and relaxed. It’s an experience to wander through the garden. Why can’t my vegetable garden be the same way? Yes, for harvesting’s sake, I probably want to keep my potatoes together, but why can’t I have broccoli scattered throughout the garden? Why does everything have to be linear with hard paths? I’m starting a new garden layout this year. I tried googling and found no information on this technique, so I’m going to coin it Free-Form Vegetable Gardening. You heard it here first folks.

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I am a huge fan of permaculture. My Back to Eden garden is where I started and I’ve expanded into additional permaculture concepts. The basic summary of permaculture is mimicking nature. Yes, nature only grows certain things in the sun and certain things in shade. Yes, nature allows certain things to grow in certain soil types, but it doesn’t follow a hundred rules. By scattering my vegetables throughout the garden, I feel I will be giving them the best odds. If the soil or sunlight wasn’t just right in one area, maybe my crop will grow somewhere else.

Every garden is as unique as the person who plants it. If you want to try something new, do it! If you want to plant a hundred of this and none of that, go for it!

Rouge pumpkins scaling the side of the chicken coop. Most likely the results of my boys playing in the yard with last year’s jack ‘o lanterns.

Some of my best harvests have come from unintentionally planted plants. Last year my best pumpkins came from a vine that popped up next to the chicken coop. Granted, I had to grab a ladder to pick them off the coop roof, but they were beautifully growing up there and they got huge.

Plant your garden your way.

So this year when you are planning out your garden, think about what you want and forget about the rules. Plant what you want to plant and lay it out the way you want to lay it out. Let being in your garden and harvesting the fruits of your labors be a pleasurable experience.

Every garden is as unique as the person who plants it. If you want to try something new, do it! If you want to plant a hundred of this and none of that, go for it!

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I’m Not Going to Plant That Way {Just Because You Said I Should} — 16 Comments

  1. Hate met Garden!! First year perfect. Did not read any garden books.
    2nd year bad Spring weather followed by sucky bugs. Lost Zucchini..cantaloupe not sweet.
    3rd year- covered with plastic/ laid fallow.

    This year. NO BEES.. NO FLOWERS SETTING on zucchini. Sucky bugs on Cantaloupes, still alive. Dint know if they’ll set?????
    What’s wrong with a 8B Zone ???? HELP.
    Please email me!!!!

  2. I decided to landscape my back yard with food and flowers, . it was flat and green grass, the irrigation came in from the back corner, . . i began to lay out garden hoses to see where i wanted paths and open areas, . .then the digging began, trenches here, mounds of dirt here, found berry bushes free, fruit trees at a local store, my mom bought me plants too, . .my wife looked out the back window at the mess, yet kept faith, . its 5 years later and i’m still learning, .last year i learned natural stray seeds that wintered all season long, know better when to sprout than my transplant attempts, i have three strips that are 4 feet wide and linear for annual gardening, (tomatoes and such) a chicken coup and run lay along one of them, rotated to a new one every season so the girls can fertilize and clean all the bugs out of the last years plot area, . this year i am hoping i can complete the far corner gazebo that runs along the earths axis and tracks the sun, along with the waterfall and fish pond, . . all this just by grabbing a shovel and some garden hoses, .https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1650069515263776&set=pb.100007822309441.-2207520000.1453596673.&type=3&theater , . i learn every year, read little, research some, and listen much as i work the land in my yard. . . . https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1650069081930486&set=pb.100007822309441.-2207520000.1453596673.&type=3&theater , .cant wait till it gets grown over and the paths all lead to their hidden little secret areas, . . https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1620003661603695&set=pb.100007822309441.-2207520000.1453596681.&type=3&theater , .2pears trees, a peach tree, 2 plum trees, apple tree, blueberries, asparagus, blackberries, raspberries, chives, rosemary, goose berry, currents (both red and white), thyme, strawberries, various grape vines, and others all come back every year, . lilies, rose of sharon, poppies, roses, and others also come back, . https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1620003814937013&set=ms.c.eJwzNDMyMDAwtjA0sTQ2NzA01jOECJiZGZoBSUtTAG8~%3BBpU~-.bps.a.1620003714937023.1073741828.100007822309441&type=3&theater , . . 4 years so far, . and the enjoyment in the labor can not be expressed in words

  3. Thank you for writing this post! I am fairly new to gardening and am attempting to plant a 20×20 garden this year after enjoying my first attempt at planting carrots and parsley last year. I have been feeling pretty overwhelmed with all the different things i’ve been reading and was feeling terrified I would mess it all up if I planted the wrong thing. Im glad I’ve found your positive blog and cannot wait to read your other posts!

  4. Ha! I love your name for it — free-form vegetable gardening. That sums up my area pretty well. I have a few established beds, but most plants just get put somewhere in the general garden area. Perennials and annuals are intermixed. Fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers are all together. As long as I have space to walk between the groupings, it’s all good. I prefer not to plant the same varieties together. That way, if insects get one, they don’t just go down the line like a buffet. I do try to keep track of where plants are year-to-year so I’m not planting the same thing in the same place back to back. But volunteer plants are my favorite — they just seem hardier.

    • I’ve found the same to be true. I had volunteer tomatoes that showed up in the shady area behind our garage. I thought, well, they will grow, but they won’t flower. After they flowered I thought, well, they will flower, but they won’t fruit. Lo and behold, I got my best tomatoes from those plants.

  5. Great post! I could not agree more. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants … for example, I have never, ever tested my soil but everyone says I MUST test my soil. Why? If my plants are healthy & productive, then my soil works just fine. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Test soil only if everything you plant there dies. Better yet, replace that soil and start over. Anyway, this is a great post! I will share this with my readers.

  6. Thank you for writing this. I can’t tell you how many arrogant, know it alls I have run into that say, “you have to do it this way”. It drives me crazy. Here’s my advice to your readers. No two gardens are ever the same, so grow what you like to eat and have fun with it.

  7. Here’s to breaking free! This is pretty much how I garden. If I want to try something new, I do -even if others say it can’t be done. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve had several people tell me they wish blueberries grew down here. And are surprised when I tell them I grow them, because they’ve always heard they don’t grow here. Enjoy the freedom.

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