The garden bed layout is finished, with some pretty significant changes from last year. I had begun with Eliot Coleman's crop rotation as a starting point last year, which was good, but definitely needed some tweaking this year. Here it is:
Those are our nine beds, left to right. The pile in the upper left corner are 2 herbs I won't be including in the raised beds and 3 veggies that took over the garden last year. I hope to find a permanent home for some rosemary bushes in the landscaping (perhaps by the front door?) and somewhere open for the candy roaster pumpkin and zucchino to sprawl and thrive. The marigold and nasturtium I will intersperse throughout the garden, along with some other flowering plants along the fence to attract beneficial insects. (Come here, little ladybugs!) Perhaps some frogs will find a home there too.
I'm sticking with the same varieties as last year for the most part. I was very happy with pretty much everything, and what I was disappointed in had more to do with my error than a poor seed choice. Plus, I have some of almost everything left. There are only a few things we still need to purchase, but I've heard rumor the Family Tree garden center carries a good selection of heirloom seeds, including Baker Creek seeds. I'll give a review after we visit...
I merely dabbled in beneficial flower plantings (or companion planting) last year, and I hope to expand that this year. I have lantana down the driveway side of the garden, and I am going to put red trumpet vine and morning glories on the corner fence posts. The list is long, so I'm just going to pick ones that visually appeal to me. Another option is to choose some bait plants. These intentionally attract an insect you have a problem controlling in your area. For instance, larkspur (or delphinium) attracts Japanese beetles and is poisonous, so they die. (Warning: fatal to humans too, as are many beautiful and beneficial plants, so choose carefully in regard to small children or animals.)
I'm way behind on starting my seeds, but I'm trying to schedule that in for this week. As I walked to the mailbox today, my second-year asparagus was standing thin and tall to greet me. A long-term investment that I am looking forward to reaping in a year or two. I am tentatively planning on dropping some more asparagus seeds in the bed, as it doesn't seem to be taking up as much room as I initially thought. A well-maintained bed can be harvested for over 20 years, and can also be dug up and moved if necessary, in between seasons.
As a final note regarding my bed layout, sweet potatoes and potatoes are not good companion plants, so I have them separated. I also spaced out veggies of the same family in case I don't have to rearrange my bed layout too much next year.