I’ve got big plans…

Whew!  It’s been awhile since I’ve written and I do apologize.  We had another bank conversion last week and it turns out that there’s just no time for blogging while I’m driving from city to city, working late at the branch and doing it all over again the next day.  I’m sure you all have missed me terribly!

The good news is that long bouts in the car also get my mind a-goin…and I needed something to distract me from going crazy with work.  So I turned my attention to a project that’s been on my mind for over a year:  planting a garden.   I know, how hippie of me, right?  Actually it’s been something The Hubs and I have been interested in doing for awhile now, but for whatever reason never pulled the trigger on it.  Actually, I know damn well what the reason was but it just seems stupid now….but I’ll get to that in a second.

It all started two years ago when we were in Hawaii visiting my friend Erin and our jaws dropped at the sight of her lemon, lime and avocado trees.  How awesome would it be to have that type of produce at our fingertips?  Feeling like a mojito?  Just go pluck that lime from the tree in your front yard and some mint from your garden.  Sah-weet.  (Before I go on, let me just state that YesIKnow Montana’s climate is not conducive to growing any type of citrus fruit let alone avocados as big as your head).  But Erin also had a square foot garden out back that she uses all year round. Which is totally unfair if you ask me…I’ll have 3 months for a growing season if I’m lucky.  But I digress.  The point is that the proverbial seed was planted.

Then, a few months later for my birthday, The Hubs gave me this book:

I just love this picture...it cracks me up every time. Good 'ol Mel.

I read the whole book in a couple of nights and was stoked to garden!  He makes it sound so simple, as if anyone can do it, even those of us that have killed every single house plant we’ve every owned.  The whole idea of square foot gardening is to be more efficient in your growing:  grow more in less space.  Which is brilliant for those of us that don’t have a lot of space to begin with (for instance, if you only have to move the sprinkler twice to water your backyard).   I was convinced.  The Hubs was convinced.  We were totally going to do it, so off I went.

Step 1:  Design your garden.  This is where you figure out if you want a 4×4 bed, 2×4, 2×6, etc.  Seems pretty simple right?  Not to mention awesome because you can totally adjust the design of your garden to fit your particular space.  WRONG.  This is the point at which I bailed.  Yep.  That’s right.  Step numero uno.   I froze.  How did I want the garden to look?  Where was I going to put it?  What if I put it in the wrong spot?   What the heck did I even want to grow?!  Terrifying isn’t it?  Unfortunately for me it was, but give me a minute to try to explain.

1.  I’m a planner.  We all know this by now.

2.  Our backyard isn’t what I would consider “done.”  When I moved in I insisted suggested we build a cedar privacy fence (because while it’s awesome that our yard opens up to a giant park…it’s not awesome to have other dogs poop in our yard or other people’s kids play in it).   So a year later, we built a fence (and dug every stinking post hole by hand because The Hubs thinks us “desk people” could use some manual labor.  ??!!).    But other than the existing patio, the fence and a few Hops plants….we haven’t done anything.  No landscaping; not a single tree, no flower beds, zip.  So in my mind, the backyard still has a LOT of work to be done and I can’t just be throwing in  a garden all willie-nillie!  I just can’t do it.

In order to free myself from indecision, I decided that we needed a Backyard Master Plan.   Not a to-do list and certainly not something that we would have to stick to….but at least, at a very minimum….some ideas about how we wanted the yard to end up long-term.  Because then I might have a better idea about where the right spot to put a garden would be.

Makes sense, right?

So first thing I did was sketch out our backyard as it stands today…which honestly wasn’t very tough to do!

Next, I made a call to my favorite landscape designer – my sister.  How conveeeenient.  She was able to help me whip up a plan in no time at all.  It really made me feel silly for putting it off for so long.

Quite a little oasis, isn’t it?  The plans call for an expanded patio (part of which would be covered with a wooden trellis), some perimeter gardens (exact plants not decided yet….but probably some native grasses and bushes), a couple of stone walkways to our gates, a compost area, a few aspen trees and of course gardening area.  Plus, the bonus to this whole Master Plan business is that we can totally “piece-mail” projects from it.  You know, tackle a garden this year and perhaps the expanded patio as well?  Then maybe next year the perimeter beds and some trees?  Then the following year a trellis and some more shrubs/native grasses to fill it in?  Yeah, a plan.  Nothing bad can come from a little planning!

I know it looks like we’re eating up our whole backyard to patio and landscaping.  And it’s kinda true.  The only reason I’m ok with this approach is because our gate opens up to a huge park – so even today when we have people over we end up using the space out there for any sort of lawn activity.   Plus, one of The Hubs favorite things to do is have summer BBQs with friends; so the idea of a patio that’s big enough to host several couples (and um, did you see the “bar” drawn in?) would bring many advantages to us.  But I’m getting ahead of myself here anyways…as excited as I am about this whole plan, I know it will be several years before the whole thing comes to fruition.  I’ve gotta take it easy on The Hubs (and the pocket-book)!

But we ARE back on track to get our garden going this spring.  Yep.  One 4×4 square foot garden coming up.  I’ll be sure to document the whole process, from building our raised bed and installing it, to mixing our soil and planning/planting our seeds.  Oh, and of course the harvesting.  And if by chance that harvesting includes any limes…everyone’s invited for mojitos!



  1. I look forward to seeing the process, Erin created quite the oasis for you and Eric! I’ll make sure I get to reap the benefits of your garden while enjoying a mojito, lime tree or not.

  2. Ha! Janna I have been quietly reading your blog since the beginning – love it!! I have to comment on this one though because my damn sister basically MADE me use that book too. I asked how she built her boxes cause that’s all I wanted but then it was all SFG this SFG that! Then she brought me the book, after I asked her NOT to, and now as of last weekend, I have 2 4×5′ beds in my backyard. Can’t wait to start though!! I think I am planting my lettuce this afternoon. I am excited to see and hear about yours! And happy birthday soon :)

    1. Ha Ha Ha….”SFG this, SFG that”….I know exactly what you’re talking about. That sinker. She should email Mel and see about a marketing position! I’m stoked about your garden though!! TWO 4×5’s?! You’re going to have an awesome harvest. So jealous. We’ll have to keep each other posted on the haps of our gardens. Thanks for the Bday wishes….you too missy!!

  3. How are the hops? Is that part of the master plan? Look forward to hearing about what is planted in your “not so” secret garden. The Brolaw
    P.S.-I would go for the extended patio first!

    1. Are you offering to come help with that patio Rob?! :) haha.

      The hops are insane. They are certainly taking off….and I can’t wait to see what sort of messy mess they are this year. Oh, but we have a TON of them in our freezer for a batch of beer. Score. I guess it’s worth the mess.

  4. Yes, we are available to help if it will get me a mojito in that oasis faster! Can’t wait to watch the transformation….I can see it in my mind already! :)

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