19 March 2012

garden planning #2

So it looks like spring is here, although I don't want to jinx it. I've cleaned up the flower bed in front of my house, trying to get a head start on the weeds. The tulips are up a couple of inches, and the robins are playing around the yard.

It's time to make some decisions about my vegetable garden layout for this year. Last year was my first, with a "real" garden. So this year I want to try be slightly more organized.

Option 1: Do the normal crop rotation thing. Divide the garden into sections based on the plant family, moving them every year, so they aren't where they were the previous year. This is done to reduce disease and avoid depleting certain nutrients.

Option 2: Polyculture. It basically creates a lower maintenence garden by immitating nature. Disease is reduced because every plant's closest neighbour is not the same species. Different families of plants feed each other so the soil isn't depleted of a particular mineral. Like the native's way of growing the 3 sisters: corn, beans & squash. I don't know much about how to do this, but I'd probably regret not trying by the end of summer.

Also, I've heard of growing cucumbers and tomatos on trellises, and I'm interested in trying. I didn't get much of a cucumber crop last year, they spread out of the garden and got lost in the grass (or mowed).

So.. that leaves me with something like this. Maybe?:

Excuse my pathetic little drawing. The box one the left side is a compost bin, I forgot to label. I'll show you in a future post, how I made it out of pallets. I think I'm going to try trellis the peas, cucumbers and tomatoes on the north side of the garden, one of those underplanted with spinach. I'll try a polyculture to the east, with the rest left to rotation.

The strawberries and herbs space is kind of perennial. It's a bit of a mess thrown together. I may work on it a bit this year.

I've also read that it is bad to till the garden because it damages the natural soil structure. So, I guess I'll try not to till this year, there's lots of weeding to do to prep the soil though. I imagine that tilling would only chop all the weeds into tiny bits that will all grow back though, since they seem to be indestructable. That's what I'm telling myself as I'm weeding, anyway.

If anyone has any advice on polyculture or why the heck my strawberry plants spread a lot last year but didn't have a single berry, I'd gladly take it. Actually, I'd appreciate any garden advice. I'm an enthusiastic, but flailing beginner, just trying to grow some yummy organic food.

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