The New Home Economics

Garden plan 2010: letting go of rows

6 Comments

My “big idea” with the vegetable garden this year is that I am finally going to let ye olde row system die.  It’s fine for people with acres, but for small spaces, you’re just wasting valuable growing space by putting a walkway between each single line of plants.  So here’s my tentative layout for 2010 (click to enlarge):

As you can see, I have four areas, and plants will be scattered throughout each area to maximize numbers.  I plan to make each area slightly “raised” by scooping a good inch or two off of each aisle, and also by adding extra compost.

So, here are my big plans, from left to right:

1. Bush beans and peas. This irregular-shaped area has had heavy feeders for a few years now (tomatoes in 2008, parsnips in 2009) so it deserves a little legume-love.  Added bonus: the peas will [theoretically] climb on the chain-link fence.  And then they will die, before my tomatoes get big enough to want that area’s light.

2. Celeriac/Cabbage/mint. We tried celeriac for the first time last year and loved it, so this year I am planting it.  It was not easy to find the seed.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’ve never grown cabbage, either.  I’ve been reading my Companion Planting book again and it talks about the benefits of planting various herbs near cabbage, so I might actually spread the celeriac out to several different locations to make room for a little mint in here, which apparently repels white cabbage moths.

3. Banana Peppers/herbs/celeriac (?).  I want to grow a few more banana peppers this year, so we can pickle them.  We have become a pickled pepper addicts.  I am going to mix in some oregano and maybe another herb or two.  Oregano is a very beneficial herb to have in your garden, according to the book.  (It doesn’t really say why, though?!)

4. Radishes/parsnips.  Doing the same combination that I did last year, but this year I’m not doing them in rows.  I will “broadcast plant” this area with the seed, crossing my fingers all the while.  This is the spot where I grew beans in 2009, so I’m hoping that extra N in the soil will give me a better parsnip harvest this year.

What’s new and different this year?
1. No more rows
2. I’m starting both tomatoes and peppers from seed, which I’ve never done before.  My seed-starting experiments of a year ago had mixed results, so I’m going to need to improve my set-up a bit this year.
3. I’m growing determinate tomatoes for the first time ever (determinate means all the fruit is ripe at the same time).  We canned 25 lbs of tomatoes last August and we just ran out about a week ago.  This year I want to can 50 lbs.  I don’t want to have to buy them all, so I’m growing some of my own to can as well.
4.  All of my planning has been done with CSA in mind.  We’ll be getting a CSA box again this year, so I am planting things that we do not get enough of in our box (such as green beans), and things that I can preserve/pickle (such as cabbage, banana peppers, dried beans).
5. Fresh from my Master Gardener training, I tried to choose mostly varieties of vegetables that are recommended by the University of Minnesota because of their known resistance to various diseases.
6. I ordered seeds from Victory Seed Company, who I’ve never used before.  It’s still very early so if they don’t work out I should still have time to get what I need locally.

Are you as nerdy as I am and want to read a whole list of the varieties I’m planting?  I thought so.  Here you go!

Seeds I ordered last night from Victory Seeds:
– Tomato, Roma VF
– Pepper, Hungarian Sweet
– Celeriac, Giant Prague
– Pea, Oregon Sugar Pod
– Bush Bean, Contender
– Parsnip, All American
– Radish, French Breakfast
– Cabbage, Glory of Enkhuizen (A Dutch cabbage!  Be still my beating heart.)

Still need:
– Another pole bean for dried beans
– Cucumbers?  (not sure where I’d put them)
– Mint
– Basil

Seeds I have on hand or am ordering that I’m not sure where I’m going to put them:
– English Sorrel
– Fennel (Florence)
– Dill
– Kale
– Beet
– Parsley
– Chives
– Thyme
– Oregano

Seeds I have that I will likely not use:
– Mesclun lettuce salad  (relatives/friends: holler if you want these)

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6 thoughts on “Garden plan 2010: letting go of rows

  1. I would be VERY careful with the mint and consider sequestering it in a pot instead of planting it in the ground. It’s incredibly pervasive and you will spend the rest of your life trying to rid yourself in it (I speak from experience!)

  2. On the note of oregano…Matt’s researched it a bit and it is hard to get flavorful oregano from seed. We bought greek oregano last spring and it had excellent smell/flavor. My sauces tasted much better this past year…our pizza crusts even taste better and that’s the only change. Here it over winters along with thyme and chives. Oh and cucumbers will climb a chain link fence…we’ve tried it. 🙂

    We’ve also found a heat mat is pretty much essential to get peppers started good from seed. Matt will be starting peppers in about 3 weeks and tomatoes maybe 2 weeks later. It’s taken about 5 years to figure this out. 🙂

    Happy planting!

  3. Thanks for the advice. Keep it coming!

  4. I was going to say the exact same thing about the mint… there’s no such thing as “a little” mint once it’s established. I also highly recommend planting it in pots.

  5. I agree about the mint…. spreads very quickly and you’ll be cursing for years to come.

    As for the tomatoes… if you haven’t already made decisions about your support/growing techniques, I’d like to offer my suggestion as to the best product around. The Tomato Stake.
    http://www.thetomatostake.com

    Simple plastic stake, with built in soft twist ties (yet rigid enough to hold a heavy plant). I have 15 of them for 3 years now… I have left them out in the snow, rain, whatever. No rot, no rust. So easy to use, and no worries about breaking or bending your tomato branches (like you do with cages).

    Good luck!

  6. Jennifer,

    I was talking to Matt. He says there are 2 keys to being sucessful at peppers. 1) temp’s – they like it consistently warm so water with HOT water from the bottom. 2) worm castings! He uses a mix of 25% worm castings and 75% (Ace brand – cheap & no fertilizer mixed it) potting soil. He’s thinking he won’t use and synthetic fertilizer this year, just worm casting tea.

    Have fun!

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