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Garden plan 2012

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Post  FoolishTook on 2/4/2012, 10:18 am


I would love your thoughts and opinions of a garden I would like to put into the ground this year. I have a ~15'x15' plot at the local community garden. While it's a little larger than anticipated, the reason is that I would really like to get some perennials into the ground for harvesting in future years.

As much as possible, I tried to organize plants by what plants they do well next to, or at least don't have a negative effect on nearby plants. Companion plants like nasturtiums, edible marigolds and basil are interspersed to contribute to positive species interaction. Also, the idea here is that all annual plants would switch places every other year, or be replaced with a plant like alfalfa or beans to reinforce the soil with nitrogen.

And now, without further ado, the plan as it currently stands:
Garden plan 2012 Garden2012-2-3-12

The asparagus, by the way, would have a row of Viking KB3 and a row of Purple Passion. Garlic would be a mix of Georgian Fire and German Extra-Hardy. Transplanted tomatoes are from Seed Savers'; seeds for everything else are from FedCo in Maine. The paths might just be dirt or might be alfalfa. The entire top row and tomatoes/cucumbers/nasturtiums on the left-most-hand column are to be trellised.

It's ambitious, but I'm the sort of person predisposed to heavy research and meticulous care of a plant based on its needs. Hence why I'm here! If you see trouble--either for this year or next--with the layout, I would love your input. If there's a particular kind of organic fertilizer you would recommend for certain plants, I'd love your thoughts on that as well.

Thank you so much for your help!

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Post  camprn on 2/4/2012, 10:29 am

Oh you need more leeks! Garden plan 2012 262465
But seriously... first off, if you use the All New Square Foot Gardening, you will not need cover crops, EVER. Secondly In which direction is north? Are you planning on growing some of your crops vertically? Is there going to be a path around your plot? Are you going to add a fence? The organic fertilizer would be compost! Garden plan 2012 311672


43 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau


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Post  FoolishTook on 2/4/2012, 10:39 am

I really love leeks when I do eat them, but I don't find myself seeking them out a whole lot. Since they don't keep very well (compared to, say, carrots), I decided to keep the level of leeks low this year. The "scallions," though, are actually the same leek plant, planted in tighter quarters and to be harvested sooner. Those I can go through a lot of!

North is up on this layout. Delightfully, I was given a corner plot, so the north and west sides are right next to the main paths. Thus, the trellises to the north and west (which I will train to grow vertically the tomatoes, nasturtiums, snow peas, and cucumbers) won't be throwing shade directly onto the next plot's growing space. (And I'll just hope that the gardens to the south and east of me don't do lots of vertical gardening.)

I hadn't planned on a fence. Is this something you strongly feel I ought to reconsider? After purchasing everything here (the perennials are particularly spendy, though of course totally worthy it down the line), plus getting Mel's mix or something similar, I'm pushing pretty hard on my ~$300 budget. :scratch:

Compost is wonderful. =D The community gardens keep communal compost piles going, to which everyone contributes and can take away. I've heard about eggshell teas, or the value of kelp and bloodmeal and the like.

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Post  walshevak on 2/4/2012, 10:50 am

First thing I see is very narrow paths. You need at least 2 feet, 3 would be better, but I can see where you need all the plant space you can eek out. Making all your beds 3x13 would help there.

Try putting the periennal chives and thyme, the self sowing dill and some of the marigolds in pots and move them around the garden and paths as plants get wider. Good show, you put the mint in a container.

Using Mel's Mix you will not need extra fertilizer, just maybe some calcium on the tomatos and peppers for blossom end rot.



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Post  quiltbea on 2/4/2012, 12:36 pm

Welcome from a Maine neighbor. We share the same growing needs with our similar climate.

I agree the paths need to be wider. When those crops are in full swing having only a foot between won't be enough. Their tops will overgrow across those narrow pathways.

There's a lot of crowding go on in your plan, especially with the flowers. Since they are annuals, put them in pots so you can move them around between the plants as needed when space is available.

I tried a cover crop one year and it was difficult preparing the box for the new season. Better to go with more compost instead so you can renew your trace elements. If you are doing the 'All New' plan with Mel's Mix in your boxes, you won't need a cover crop.

Good luck and let us see pics as you move forward.

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Post  FoolishTook on 2/4/2012, 1:59 pm

Hey there; thank you all so much for the input! I've been working on editing the layout, and this is what I came up with:

Garden plan 2012 Garden2012-2-4-2012

The most noticeable change is the implementation of wider paths. I don't have quite enough room for 3' paths, so they're 2.5'. There's a one-foot "border" between my plot and the plots to my east and south, which I put in to prevent crowding the next plot rather than for use to walk on.

Flowers and herbs have been moved to pots, which can be moved about the garden. The paths won't have any alfalfa planted in them, just dirt that I'll keep weed-free. And there's more garlic. Gotta love any plan that makes enough garlic to maybe last six months. cheers

Quiltbea, you mentioned that there's crowding going on in this plan. What do you recommend to cut back on the crowding? I'm planning this just with the assumption that I can put everything in their squares and work with that, so I'm not sure how one can crowd in a SFG?

Thank you all so much again!

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Post  quiltbea on 2/4/2012, 2:36 pm

I meant crowding with all those flowering plants. Marigolds and nasturtiums tend to spread well beyond their squares. But you've solved that by potting many of them and tho the nasturtiums will sprawl a lot, having them along the outside so they can hang over the bed is a good placement.

I like your new plan. Lookin' good! For myself, I would only change one thing.

You can save those 3 radish squares for other things if you just plant fast-growing varieties of radish seeds along the sides of squares of your bigger plants. They'll be harvested before the larger crop needs the space and in many cases, you can tuck a few alongside taller plants so they can be shaded when it gets warmer and still grow a good crop for you.

If you have nothing else in mind for those squares, you could use them as your 'starting bed' to start seeds for lettuces, and other greens and then transplant them into their own blocks later as the space allows and still grow a few radishes in the bed. It would later be a good place to start your fall-growing crops, like late broccoli, cabbage, etc. until you can transplant them elsewhere (if you have any thoughts along that line). Having them all in one place would make it easier to shade them when it starts getting too warm or cover with plastic for more heat at the beginning of the season. Sort of a little cold frame.

Good luck with your new garden.

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Post  madnicmom on 2/4/2012, 2:45 pm

Your plan looks wonderful with the suggested makeover. Now you have me wanting to move my borage to a container so it can be moved around to help with pollination if I see a problem. cheers Great Idea!

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Post  squaredeal on 2/4/2012, 4:32 pm

I do SFG in a community garden, too. Its a little like living in an apartment - sometimes the neighbors can influence your space in an unexpected way. It sounds like you plan on keeping this plot for several years - however, if you haven't gardened in that spot before, you might want to wait on the periennial veggies until you are sure you want (or can) keep it. For example we had several plots with significant wet spots. Or neighbors grow something that shades yours. Or their plants get a disease that spreads to yours (and then they put the stalks in the community compost and infect that, too).One of my neighbors used to smoke in her garden. I educated her on tobacco mosiac virus and tomato plants. Another used Sevin without reading the label and without concern that we agreed to be an organic garden.

Think about how often you plan to come to your garden, and then consider a water management plan. Is there gardening equipment available, like a wheelbarrow for your compost, or will you have to bring it in your car?

For the first year I would stick to annuals that you will have a high probability of success meaning they will support a level of benign neglect. Believe me, there is a degree of "competitiveness" in a community garden. Especially since you have a corner plot, you want to "win" - everyone will see yours. And if you do SFG, with the boxes, Mel's Mix, trelleses, walkways, etc, people will watch you.

As a community garden, we have an separate and communial herb garden plot, and now a strawberry plot. But after three years, the management of the garden is going to change and the future is uncertain. So keep it simple and enjoy the benefits of creating new friends!

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Post  newstart on 2/4/2012, 4:51 pm

With a community garden Every person should be on the honor system and not take your veggies or fruit. I would hope that no one would But I would keep my more prized stuff at home like aspargus and other things that someone could take and leave you with nothing. just 2 cents

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Post  jpatti on 2/4/2012, 6:34 pm

Alfalfa is a bad cover crop cause it puts something (I forget what it is) into the soil which prevents seeds germinating. Alfalfa even prevents more alfalfa sprouting! So you have to kill it and then WAIT before you can plant it. This only works well if you have a major corp rotation going, like a farmer who is going to grow beef or milk off the alfalfa for a few years before turning it into vegetable crops.

Lots of cover crops says just plant and "till under" in spring, with no regard to the notion that you've just kinda planted WEEDS that you are going to have to hand pull in a raised bed.

Some ideas SOUND good, until you deal with them. Many cover crops are in that category as "tilling under" when you have no tiller is not simple. (Another bad idea - letting chickens eat the bugs in your garden. Yeah, they eat bugs. They eat transplants too though! Our own chickens is why we had to put a fence around our garden.)

Plus there is wait time involved too with a cover crop, so you don't have that space available for spring crops, only summer ones. This is a better idea when you have lots of space rather than when you are SFG and want every square as productive as possible.

I usually cover my beds in straw during the off season to avoid erosion, also use it as mulch during the season, and as ground cover for paths. Straw is preferable to hay as it has few weed seeds, since the seeds were combined out, the grain being the main crop. And it turns into compost eventually, so is dual-purpose.

This year I am planning a cover crop as each square finishes for the year... a mix of oats and field peas. Reason being these both will die in winter here, all by themselves without me having to weed them.

They won't be growing long enough to make seed, so should be providing me straw even more seed-free than bought straw. And yeah, the field peas are nitrogen-fixers. So this particular mix should not be as much a pain as most field crops, but will also "add compost" to the entire bed for me.

I expect cover crops will work for those squares which get harvested too late to start a fall crop, but won't do much in those squares with fall crops as they won't have time to grow much before being winterkilled.

So... no idea yet how much straw/mulch/compost I will get out of these, but am pretty sure they won't be a huge headache anyways.

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Post  AvaDGardner on 2/17/2012, 7:06 pm

I'm in a community garden too, with a 10x10. I now have 4 rectangle boxes with 20sf inside, and VERY narrow paths between. I wanted every inch possible for planting!

We have a communal herb garden as well. I thought that would be sufficient. I've since decided to plant my own, because they are good companions to the veggies.

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