Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring Garden Plans: Wide Row Gardening

The garden has grown to monstrous proportions this year.  I have nine rows that are 65 ft long.  I am using a wide row method in the garden.  I have plenty of space to do traditional, single rows, but it seems to leave way too much space for weeds to grow.  And did I mention that the garden is large?  The less space for weeds, the better!

I used string and flags to mark the beds.  I have been in the process of digging and smoothing out the paths and building up the beds.  The rows are three feet wide with paths also three feet wide.  The beds are not very high, but in future years I will continue to build them up with more compost.

So what to plant in all this space?  Well, this is my current plan:

I couldn't get the image of my spreadsheet large enough to be readable, so here's a list:

Row 1: Corn, sunflowers, and amaranth
Row 2: Tomatoes, marigolds, basil
Row 3: Cucumbers, sweet potatoes, pumpkin
Row 4: Melons, carrots, chard, beets, onions, spinach
Row 5: Summer and winter squash
Row 6: Potatoes, eggplant, peppers, herbs
Row 7: Pole beans, bush beans, peas, peanuts
Row 8: Broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, turnip, kale, radish, Asian greens
Row 9: Cut flowers!

I am trying to keep veggies in the same plant families in the same row, such as Solanaceae in row 6, Fagaceae in row 7, and Brassicaceae in row 8.  This will allow me to rotate crops in future years to keep plant family specific diseases and pests under control.

I am devoting a whole row to growing cut flowers, which is something I'm excited about.  I usually don't cut flowers because they are so pretty outside.  I'm hoping with so many flowers I won't have this problem anymore.  Hopefully the bees and butterflies will also enjoy them.

I have a feeling it is going to be a busy gardening season.  I just hope I can keep up with it all!

Friday, March 7, 2014

March Gardening Goals

Rain, rain, and more rain is all that seems to be happening here.  I did finally see the sun right before the sun set!  At least we just had rain and no sleet, snow, or ice.  The weekend weather is looking much nicer and hopefully it will dry out the soggy garden a bit.  I hope so, because I have so much to do this time of year!  Here's what I need to get done in March here in zone 7 (SC):

  1. Put up deer fence:  This is my number one priority for the garden this year.  Last year the deer treated my garden as their own personal buffet, so I really hope it keeps them out this year. 
  2. Make gate for fence:  Well, the fence isn't going to be too functional if it doesn't have a gate, so this is priority number two.
  3. Form beds:  The garden is tilled with manure mixed in, but I still need to smooth out the paths and pile up the beds.  I've finished almost two of the nine rows.
  4. Lay weed cloth:  With the size of my garden, I'm going to need all the help I can get in upkeep.  I am investing in weed cloth to cover the paths, so that my weeding can be isolated to the beds.
  5. Add straw mulch on top of weed cloth for paths.
  6. Start broccoli seeds inside. 
  7. Start a few more tomato and eggplant seeds inside.
  8. Set up watering system:  This is another plan to keep maintenance as low as possible.  I already have the drip hose, valves, and timer from my previous garden, so it should be fairly cheap to set-up.
  9. Plant potatoes, spinach, onions, kale, lettuce, radish, turnips, peas, carrots, and chard outside.
  10. Plant herb seeds outside: parsley, cilantro, dill
  11. Transplant cabbage.
Looks like I have a busy month ahead of me!  Happy spring :)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Babies for the Garden

Nothing fuels my anticipation for spring like starting seeds.  There is something wonderful and amazing about watching a tiny seed sprout into a seedling.  Dreams of giant tomato plants covered with juicy, ripe tomatoes are fueled by these tiny green babies.

So far I've planted tomato, pepper, eggplant, and cabbage seeds inside.  Next on the seed planting list is broccoli.  The cabbage is suppose to go out into the garden soon, but it was so cold and miserable this week that I haven't started hardening them off.  The weather is suppose to dramatically improve this weekend, so I will introduce the cabbage to the great outdoors then.  Friday we are predicted to have ice and rain with a high of 44 F followed by a high of 71 F on Saturday!  Crazy weather!  Although I will definitely not complain about a nice, warm weekend.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Horsing Around in the Garden

Spring is hopefully coming right around the corner, but secretly I'm hoping it'll hold off just a little bit longer because I'm not ready!  We tilled the garden, but then I needed to add compost.  Last year I did nothing to improve the soil and things did not grow well.  I think I have been spoiled in the past with raised beds filled with purchased garden soil.  Now I am working with the native dirt with all it's clumps, rocks, and clay.

I found a place nearby that has fields of horses and a valley filled with horse poo that has been composting for decades.  Not only is it close and convenient, but it was also only $30 for a truck and trailer load.  Now I have the arduous task of getting it from the truck and trailer into the garden.  At least this is the second and last load!

I have three rows to go and I am so tired and sore!  I'm hoping that all this hard work is going to result in a productive year.  If nothing else I should have toned arms to show for my gardening!