Thanks to everyone who has expressed an interest in our little project. We are still bashing around ideas, and my straight lines are getting bent quite a bit. In response to questions people have asked I'm posting more info rather than responding privately or in the comments.
1. putting paths where people walk - This is probably the only thing I've gotten right so far in this project. It is a method we used in developing elk resistant fences in Wyoming. They are going to go where they want to, so accommodating them with flow-through or easily repaired fencing saved a lot of expense and trouble over time. Same is true for people. Designing while the snow is on the ground has really worked. It is easier to see the patterns, and to go stomp out some of the layout to see how it feels.
2. Lead from the house. That has been a worry for us as we renovate. We have done some testing and not found much of a problem. We are being very careful. The gardens will be built about 10 feet away from the existing house. There is a porch planned (soon to be built) for that space. That should get us far enough away from any residual in the soil. We will also be building up the level with soil and amendments from elsewhere on the farm.
3. Ali at Henblog asked some questions about orientation, wind, shadows etc. I've included a sketch that is a bit less cluttered to show some of that. The garage is a single story set partway into the hill. It doesn't cast much shadow. The house is 2 story and has a pretty long shadow but not until late afternoon. The buildings serve to block a significant amount of wind, and that will be enhanced with some windbreak plantings that are happening on the other side of the house.
4. The plant list is as follows (so far):
several mint varieties
lots of sweet basil
spicy globe basil
yellow and red cherry tomatoes
several different thymes
peppers, both sweet and hot
parsley, both flat and curly
and lots of flowers
Some of these things will not survive in our Zone 5ish climate. They will have to be potted or treated as annuals.
The proposed greenhouse is based on Anna Eddy's Solviva design. I'll post the details of that one as we get closer to building it.