I’ve learned a lot after these past two years of backyard gardening. I’ve figured out what the strenghts of the growing conditions in my back yard are, and what the many weaknesses are. I’ve figured out what I tend to use, and what I don’t. I’ve learned what needs constant attention, and what flourishes when I ignore it for a week.

Starting with my back yard, I’ve come to admit that the shady west raised bed is not really fit for much, other than salad greens and spring crops. As much as I love those fava beans and beets, I just don’t have enough space in that bed to get more than one meal’s worth from an 8′ row. So this year, I’m concentrating on lettuce, spinach, arugula, chard, kale and other greens in that bed. The shade should help keep the greens growing through the heat of the summer.

The 2′ x 4′ herb bed is going to remain an herb bed – the only change I’ll make will be to sow cilantro and dill in several batches through the year to make sure I’ve got a constant supply. But my potato box is destined for better things. After last year’s failure, I’ll use that 2′ x 2′ box of deep soil to grow some trailing plants that I wouldn’t have room for otherwise -right now, I’m thinking ground cherries and tomatillos.

Last year’s new bed, that had strawberries and basil is going to be repurposed into a tomato bed – with ample basil again. The strawberries just weren’t worth the space they took up, and I need to rotate my tomatoes to a new bed.

The final 8′ x 4′ bed will be for cucumbers, eggplant, peppers and maybe two or three other plants. I will put the cucumbers at the front of the bed to ensure they don’t get blocked by the taller plants, and I’ll resist the urge to crowd the bed too much.

I also put myself on a list to be notified when community garden plots become available. I’m really excited for the opportunity, even though the garden would be about five miles from my house. Living in the city, there’s really not the opportunity for me to grow veggies that need room – so this would be my chance to try squash, melon, zucchini, bush beans, artichokes, and maybe grow enough tomatoes, peppers and eggplant to preserve. I’m hoping for a 10′ x 18′ bed, which with full sun, should satisfy any need I have for more space, though I’ll have to travel to care for it.