2021 Goals for SBG

My usual planning method is to begin the year with some hazy ideas about what I’d like to have in the garden. Then, I either forget altogether or one day wake up realizing I’m about to miss an important seasonal window and rush through a project.

Taking on our children’s school garden forced me to be organized and create hard schedules for our projects, in order to get necessary approvals, assemble materials, and work parties, etc. As a result I didn’t miss a single date and everything pulled together beautifully. It is past time that I applied that same discipline to my own property.

School Garden 2019

Goal #1: Upgrade my Basemap

My current basemap is hand drawn and includes features that have since changed.  I want to make a larger scale map that is very basic with only our house and hardscapes. Then I will scan it in.  Next I’ll print that and add some semi-permanent features, beds, trellises, perennials, etc. and scan that in.  Now I should be able to print and doodle or math out any future project.  I love maps. 

Goal #2: Drip Irrigation – With Smart Controller

It’s time! 

For years I have been obstinate about setting up an automatic system. I felt that my time hand watering the garden kept me connected and gave me time to observe and think.  It does. However, hand watering means that I’m out there at weird times, sometimes I forget altogether, water distribution is inconsistent–always. This year, I’ll be printing out my new base maps and designing a new system.  A smart controller means that it will check the weekly watering number and adjust accordingly.

Goal: #3 Move Asparagus crowns from Zone 1 to Zone 2.

Asparagus fronds.

Permaculture zone 1 plants require daily visits.  Asparagus is a perennial that requires very little attention from me, is a-once-a-year harvest, and needs a lot of space. So this year I will dig up and move the crowns to newer beds that live in zone 2-3.  

Goal #4: Repair asparagus box:

This box is around 10 years old and has split at the corners.  I will repair or rebuild this box and refresh the soil for zone 1 vegetables. 

Goal #5: Finish Pathways and Bed Design:

Sheet mulch pathway between new beds and arborvitae

Between my fruit tree guilds, I have created new planting beds and pathways.  I will finish building the pathways, with cardboard sheet mulch and wood mulch. I will also carefully plan the plantings.  The guilds are 10’ in diameter, (about the drip line for dwarf trees) but I know their roots extend beyond their guilds.  So I need to be careful about not disturbing the soil too much.  I’m thinking: tall perennial flowers (beebalm, echinacea, marshmallow) in the back and some shallow rooted annuals in the front of the beds.  I also want to add a central design element, bird bath, shepherd’s hook for feeders, or other statuary, or a flowering shrub. 

Backyard Habitat Certification in Progress

Goal #6: Complete Backyard Habitat Certification Requirements

I want to make sure I represent at least three canopy layers, small tree, shrub, ground cover. Some of the new planting beds will include some edible natives. I also plan to open up a few new areas for plantings of shade loving natives. 

Goal #7: Remove Norway Maple Tree

Removed Norway maple tree.
Removed Norway maple tree.

Replace with vine maple and a planting of natives. 🍁🌿  My husband has removed the tree and is now excited about the open space.  I will need to create a design and pitch it to him for buy-in on my plans.  I’m thinking of using the stump for a birdbath or statue, nestling in a vine maple surrounded by a few ferns and bunching grasses as well as some flowers and ground covers.

Goal #8: Using Maple logs, Inoculate with Mushroom Spore Plugs. 

I have a book on reserve from the library and I’m on One Green World’s notification list when the plugs will be ready. The logs will need at least one month to be ready to inoculate.  (Otherwise the wood will resist the fungus.)

Goal #9: Rejuvenate the Old Bed. (SBG-3)

This bed has been under continuous cultivation for over ten years.  Now, not much thrives in it (except oregano and chives).  The soil test showed no nutrient deficiencies other than nitrogen so I’m thinking it’s a pest/disease overburden, which is why the aromatic herbs are doing OK.  In Steve Solomon’s book, Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades he says (in paraphrase) that a continuously irrigated vegetable bed that is manured regularly will eventually become unproductive.  To rejuvenate an old bed he recommends dry farming favas or another dry crop for three years to bring the pest population back into balance, which should allow three years of cultivation.  This rotation was created with symphylans in mind.  I have not seen them in this particular bed, but I do see hundreds of decomposers and larvae of unknown species.  The lab test result also said this bed has 18% organic matter. Dialing back the compost as well as allowing the soil to fully dry for a few seasons seems like a sensible measure for reducing the overburden of insects in this bed. 

Since sowing favas is best done in the fall, I will sow buckwheat this spring and summer and favas next fall. 

Goal #10: Plan for front yard makeover. 

Our front yard is a little slice of green pizza that is south facing.  Our HOA prohibits front yard vegetable gardens (boo!), but, they generally don’t mind edible shrubbery.  My primary issue with our front yard lawn is that I can’t keep up with the blowing weeds.  Give me a scuffle hoe in a garden and no weed is safe, but in turf the mass of roots make manual weed control frustrating and back breaking.  Personally, I don’t mind weeds, but my neighbors prefer to keep their grass weed free and weed seeds from my yard make it necessary for them to use more chemicals on their lawn.  

I prefer to do landscape makeovers in the fall, so this year I will dream, plan, sketch up plans on my basemap, refine, and submit to our HOA in time for implementation sometime in October or November. 

Oh bother! That’s a lot.  Any one else feeling stressed? Better schedule it out so I don’t have an anxiety attack from trying to figure it all out at once.

Project Schedule

Pathways done! Next: plan plant layout.

Goal #1: Get that new basemap done. This is priority 1, since nearly all other project will require a map. – Did not get this done. Looks like I haven’t gotten any better about completing documentation since my IT days. 😬 Rolling forward into 2022.

Goal #7: Remove Maple Tree

Goal #5: Finish Pathways


  • Goal #3: Move the asparagus.
  • Goal #4: Repair the box. Did not repair the box. It’s split at one corner but otherwise holding up OK.
  • Goal #8: Using Maple logs, Inoculate with Mushroom Spore Plugs. (I’m on a wait-list at One Green World.) After waiting, waiting, waiting, I ordered plugs for shiitake mushrooms and oyster mushrooms from a seller called 2FunGuys.


  • Goal #2: Drip Irrigation SystemGot this done in August.
  • Goal #6: Complete Backyard Habitat Certification Requirements – Also completed in August.


Goal #9: Rejuvenate the Old Bed. (SBG-3) Did not irrigate over summer. Planted fava beans in October. I will allow another season of no-irrigation and fava’s then try planting the following spring.


Goal #10: Submit front yard makeover to HOA. Didn’t not get to this one. 😬 Rolling over to 2022.


Goal #9: Rejuvenate the Old Bed. (SBG-3) Sow fava beans.


Goal #10: Implement front yard makeover.  Still in the design process.

I can do this! 

I left April through August pretty wide open since I know I’m going to be busy seeding, sowing, weeding, et. al. so better to schedule these goals for the dormant season.  

What about you? What are your goals and plans for your garden 2021?  Leave a comment and share some inspiration!

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