April 11, 2011

Garden Planning

Today is April 11th which means that - if I can hold out - I'll be planting in about 3 weeks. So, the garden planning must be done!

I have been reading a wonderful reference book called Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte that I borrowed from the library. It's about companion planting - planting certain vegetables, fruits and herbs with others to provide beneficial nutrients and pest protection. I will be using that method in an effort to stay organic. And I'm enjoying the book so much that I think I'll be getting a copy for myself to keep.

I will also be using the Square Foot Gardening method, named by Mel Barthalomew, to cram in as many plants as I can into our three beds. With this method you divide your space into one square foot sections using string, slats, etc., like so:

Picture from amy-newnostalgia.blogspot.com
Then in each square foot you put the maximum number of seeds you can cram in, based on the "thin to" number on the package. For example, if your seed pack says to thin to a final spacing of 4 inches, you'll put 9 seeds in that square from the beginning, each spaced 4 inches apart, and ignore the thinning part. If they don't all come up, then just reseed the missing ones. I haven't read the book yet, but that's the general idea and you can find more about it here on the website. (It takes a bit to load. That's why it's a no-no to designs sites solely in Flash.)

Now, you didn't think I would get through this project with using a spreadsheet, did you? In fact, I've made two. One as a chart layout of the beds (which I could have done on paper, but this way I can print out a new blank one for each growing season):

And one for the list of plants, their family (more on that later), the planting date, days to sprout, days to harvest, when those dates will be based on the planting date, "thin to" spacing, number of seeds/plants per square and notes.

So with that list in hand, and my handy chart layout, I got started laying out where plants will go.

I found two downloads on Little House in the Suburbs, which make the plant family identification and which plant families DON'T like each other very easy. Go here and find the PDF of the plant family list, as well as the Rule chart near the bottom of the post. It made my life really easy when planning.

And now, the plan!

I started with the bed on the bottom, since that was the one I knew we would for sure have ready. This bed will have:

Green beans, pinto beans, corn -each spaced a week apart, spinach, spaghetti squash, zucchini, yellow squash, and cantaloupe. I've gathered these are all "safe" to plant together using the chart from LHitS. Green beans grow well with corn, as they provide nitrogen to the soil that the corn needs.

The second filled bed will have both Roma and Polish Linguisa tomatoes (great for sauces with a rich flavor), carrots, basil, onions, jalapeno and Anaheim peppers, and cilantro. I'm still trying to decide the quantities of each. Basil is beneficial to tomatoes, helping to prevent insects and disease, as well as encouraging growth and flavor. Basil also repels flies and mosquitoes, so I will be planting some up by the porch for that.

So far the last big bed only has lettuce and potatoes in it. I'm not sure if I'll be adding more potatoes, more lettuce, or adding something entirely different. I think I will switch the potatoes to the other end of the bed though, since the book says that they don't do well near squash.

The last little bed is where I put my berry bushes, and where I will probably put the asparagus, hoping it won't crowd out the rest. It will be our fairly permanent plant bed.

I'll be interspersing radishes in all the beds, since they seem to be beneficial to just about every plant  except it's own family (cabbage) in deterring bugs and disease.

That's it! It might change a bit here and there, but for the most part we're set to plant. I'll be setting up my string lines sometime this week (hopefully), and then I have to be patient to plant.

Happy Planting,


From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

I hope you have a warm, sunny and rain when you need it summer. All the work and thought that you put into your garden, you deserve to get tons of vegetables.

Kessie said...

I foresee a problem with the cantaloupe. It'll spread out and take over. Can you train them to climb a trellis? Same problem with the spaghetti squash. I saw Mom's garden last year. It was a jungle. :-)

Meg said...

The cantaloupes and squash were put on the edge of the box for a reason. It's meant so they can spill out into the walkway where they won't crush the other plants. If it's too much to go through, we can just go around through the back. Although training to a trellis is an interesting idea, if it will work.

Allison said...

Spreadsheets? AHHHHHHHHHHHH... can you see my back running off into the night? I'm so much less mathematical than you, Meg! I can't wait to see how lush and yummy your garden grows.

Farm Girl said...

Wow, I am so impressed, you are so careful and do such a good job. Where I am more seat of the pants. I might have to get those spread sheets and try doing your way. Gosh I have learned so much from you already.

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