How Does My Garden Grow? - Part 2
Garden Layout: Square Foot, Vertical and Companion Gardening
As I started thinking about having a garden, I knew up front that I wanted a Kitchen Garden . . . a neat and tidy, picturesque and small-ish garden near my kitchen, where I can run out and grab some herbs or veggies in a hurry while I'm cooking.
As I began to do my research, I discovered the benefits of square foot gardening and vertical gardening, and I knew this was the way to go.
Square Foot Gardening means that you section off your beds into one-foot squares instead of planting in rows. There are many charts available online that show you at a glance how many plants of each type to plant in each square foot. Here's one I found at Snappy Gardening:
|Square Foot Garden Chart at Snappy Garden|
When you look at this chart, you can begin to think of vegetables in terms of sizes. XL vegetables, such as zucchini, pumpkin, and watermelon need two square feet per plant, whereas you can plant 16 plants per square foot of the XS veggies, such as radish, carrot and onion. You can pack more plants into the space of a square foot garden than you can in rows. It also reduces weeding.
Vertical Gardening is another way to save space in a garden. You can save a lot of valuable garden space growing vining vegetables "up" instead of sprawled on the ground. Growing vertically also reduces loss of vegetables due to bug or critter invasions or mildew and mold. My friend and Master Gardener, Chris McLaughlin, released a new book this year, "Vertical Vegetable Gardening." I love this book and learned so much about gardening in general and vertical gardening in particular. There are endless ways to get those veggies growing "up." You can read more of my thoughts on Chris' book in the book review that I wrote. We naturally think of tomatoes, beans, or peas growing vertically. But how about zucchini or cucumbers? Vertical gardening makes efficient use of space by getting plants to climb upward on vertical structures such as fences, poles, and trellises.
|Maple Grove's Kitchen Garden Plan, including |
five garden beds, a storage space and a Potting Shed
There are a number of Internet sites that have useful tools and resources for planning a garden. I like this one at Smart Gardener. Using this free tool, I was able to lay out my garden, select plants, and decide where to plant them and how many to plant. When you click on an image it gives you information about that vegetable and tells you how many to plant in each square foot. This resource also gives you a planting schedule, weekly to-do-list and a place for journaling.
|Smart Gardener Garden Plan|
Note: I love the Smart Gardener's website, but I recently discovered they now charge a monthly fee for membership.
I found another site that offers a free garden planning tool: Gardeners.com
In my research, I learned that Companion Planting is a very beneficial way to reduce or eliminate the need for using chemical pesticides and fungicides in your garden. I desire to have an organic garden, so planting the right herbs and flowers in among the vegetables will help to deter harmful insects or fungi.
Following is a list of some of the most helpful resources I found while researching how to lay out my garden beds. The next items on my agenda are 1) deciding if I want to plant heirloom or hybrid plants; 2) whether I want to plant seeds or buy transplants; and 3) determining a planting schedule. See you next time!
Square Foot Gardening:
Gardener's Supply Company
Organic Gardening Companion Planting Guide
My Square Foot Garden Companion Planting Guide
Vegetable Gardener Growing Vegetables Vertically
General Gardening Information:
USDA Cooperative Extension System Offices
The Old Farmer's Almanac
Growing Vegetable Gardens