Garden Ambition

As we start what promises to be another mild week of winter here in Minnesota, I am finding it more and more difficult to be patient for spring.  I think it's because it has looked so much like spring for so long, my mind has been tricked into thinking it should be spring already.  With the days getting noticeably longer and the sunshine definitely gaining strength, I am so ready to get out and do some work in the backyard.  I just have to keep reminding myself that I need this time now to finish up the projects I have already started in the house (hello, bedroom that I have been painting since December!) before moving outdoors.

These days, when I'm not changing my mind about paint colors, I'm trying to reign in my ambitions for this year's garden.  I feel like my plans are really starting to come together. I have sketches of layouts that I really like and I've made most of those tough deliberations to narrow down my lists - I even have a plan mapped  out for starting some seeds in the coming weeks and months.  I'm trying to keep this year's plans as manageable as possible.  We have a busy summer ahead of us (hello, campaign!), so as tempting as it is to dream as if we already have that "someday" five acres just outside of town that we often talk about, I have to be realistic.  Final negotiations with the husband are still pending (and who knows what our actual spring weather will bring), but here are three smaller scale projects that are currently under consideration:

Vertical Garden Panel
One of the challenges I've been working around is the finite space of my two raised beds.  There are so many varieties I would love to grow, but only so much space space available.  In order to make the most of the space I have, I would like to install a few hooks on the fence to hang a cattle panel (or something similar) along one side of the larger garden so I can plant cucumber, cantaloupe, and squash vines that will grow up instead of sprawling out over valuable garden real estate.  

Cold Frame
I have been dreaming about building a cold frame since late last fall.  I'd really love to be able to get an early start on spring greens and try to extend the harvest as far as possible on the winter side of the season as well. The south side of the garage (current winter storage for my herb containers) would be the perfect location for a cold frame.  This spot gets great sun exposure and is one of the higher points of the backyard, so it's a little less susceptible to frost.  The rhubarb thrives here, so why not try a cold frame full of kale, spinach, scallions, and carrots?  It will take a little work to dig out the rock where the cold frame will sit, but the construction should be pretty straight forward.   I bet I can even enlist the assistance of my brother for little more than the cost of a couple of cold beverages.

Garden Expansion
I've been playing around with the idea of expanding the small garden with two 4'x4' beds on either side of the original garden.  The 4'x4' extensions are really not that big, but I think it will make the garden itself more visually interesting. The extra spaces would be perfect for a "Three Sisters" planting of heirloom popcorn, beans, and pumpkins on one side and a permanent location for a few perennial herbs on the other.  We already have the wood to make it happen (we seriously considered it as a part of last year's expansion), but the big unknown factor remains when and where we are going to build a deck.  We're a little hesitant to make any many major changes to this area until we make a few more decisions about the deck, so this might be the least likely of the three to be completed. Plan "A" and "B" garden plans are in the queue, just in case!