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Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall Gardening Plans

So I know most have already started their fall gardens, but here in the South, we can start a little later. I am going to try to have fresh produce through mid-Jan. Wish me luck!

Last weekend we got the beds ready and this weekend we will plant.
I have developed this scheme for our planting. We laid out a new garden design that consists of 12 garden beds. Each bed is 4x8 and will be intensively planted (sqft gardening like without grids).

The beds are simply raised dirt, no wood around them. This method has worked just fine for us. Helps with drainage and easy to maintain.

In between each row is a 2.5' walking path. However the walking paths do not extend the entire (8') length of the row. They stop 2' short. The final 2' of these walking rows will be my 'play' area. They will be used for 1)experiments, 2) trying new plantings/varieties, 3) perennials, 4) plants that will be grown for seed saving; thus needing to remain in the bed longer than other plants...clearly these are only plants who need to flower or over-ripen to save mature seeds.

Here's a diagram of the beds:

I have also worked out a crop rotation scheme. I have set up a 3-year rotation scheme and in many cases it is better than that because it will be more than 3-years before the same plant will return. For example, Bed 11 is the only bed with carrots, so carrots will only be planted in each bed once every 12-years....tomatoes once every 6, and so forth.

For crop rotation, I seperated the crops into three groups:
1 - Manures (crops that feed the soil) - Legumes, Grains, Cover Crops
2 - Group N - Nightshades, Carrots, Lettuce, Okra, Sweet Potato
3 - Group B - Brassicas, Squash, Corn, Beets, Alliums

The Manure group is self explanatory. The other two groups were basically created based on what grows well together and the time of year they are planted. Here, I plant brassicas and alliums in the fall only. Those are root and leaf crops, so in the summer I follow then with a fruit crop from the squash/melon family. Group N are all grown both fall and spring, but they all go very well together; some are light feeders and some are heavy.

The rotation is very simple. It starts in the fall, followed by the spring planting (listed below it), then the next fall, each planting is shifted once to the left. This ensures that each family is only planted in each bed once every three years (minimum).

Here's the diagram of my 12 beds. I had to split into two pictures so it would be readable (for a 'full' view, the 2nd pic goes directly to the right of the 1st pic) The top row in the pics is the fall gardens, the bottom row is the spring garden that will follow the fall garden above...the next fall, the column to its right will be planted there and so forth):

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