While there have been several occasions when the dogs being in the garden have caused disasters (trampled plants, dead bunnies, etc.), we generally enjoy their company and get a sense of satisfaction in having a little adventure with them out of the house. However, in the heat of the summer with the sun shining down on them they tend to get a bit over heated. We keep them cool with sprays from the hose and plenty of fresh water for them to drink, but we wanted them to be a bit more comfortable, especially since they are pretty restricted by their leashes to begin with. So the ideas started to flourish in my mind about how we could incorporate a shady spot for the dogs into our plan for the garden.
I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to grow pumpkins last year, so this year we decided to set aside some space for them as well as some spaghetti squash, which Andrew has got me hooked on (super simple recipe to come soon!). I was also looking forward to growing some corn and some dried beans, which all came together with my discovery of a Native American farming technique which grows these “three-sisters” together in cooperation: the beans grow up the corn stalks and the squash shade the ground to contain the weeds and hold in moisture. I found a great online article about how to put together a 10ft x 10ft space, which is what I am planning to put in our garden. However, in order to make sure things are not getting too overcrowded I wanted to make sure the squash (especially the pumpkins) have enough space and sun to grown and thrive.
The garden plan was evolving and I had decided to put the large three-sisters area more in the center of my plot so that I wouldn’t be affecting other gardener’s plots in our community garden either by shading them or overgrowing onto their plot. I like the idea of using the corn and other tall growing plants in my plot to shade the ones that need to avoid the mid-summer’s heat, like spinach and lettuce. Then again, we also wanted to shade the dogs a bit too. So it all started to come together. Corn could shade the dogs in addition to the shade from the dog house, and the dog house would provide some barrier between the dogs and plants as well as a trellis for any out of control squash. My optimistic mind is picturing pumpkins growing on top of the dog house, but we will see how that goes.
Using my favorite gardening planning software, I put together my plan:
Since the bed will be completely empty for a little while (tomorrow being our avg last frost date the temps are still too cool for the corn, beans and squash), I decided to take advantage of the space a little and plant an early crop of spinach, which will be harvested before the squash take over. As for the rest of it, I am planning on planting Small Sugar Pumpkins, Spaghetti Squash, Rattlesnake Beans, and Stowell’s Evergreen Corn.
ASIDE: I have been listening to an audiobook that I stumbled upon at my local library called Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. It has been really fun to listen to while I am working away in the garden, and I felt very connected to the author, Novella Carpenter, when she mentioned she had planted seeds from Seed Savers Exchange the same exact Stowell’s Evergreen Corn that I will be planting in a few weeks. Fun coincidence 🙂 After googling to get a link to the book for this post, I just found out she also has a wordpress blog: http://ghosttownfarm.wordpress.com – check it out!
So with an outline of a planting plan and where the dog house was fitting into that plan, the next things were to design and build. These posts are coming soon!