We've all been there. It's Spring, you're excited to get your fingers in the dirt, you just dropped some bills at your nearest nursery and now you've gotten home with your flats of plants ready to get them in the ground.... but now your stuck. You worry you've gotten too many plants, then too few, then just when you've broken a sweat and covered yourself in dirt you decide to just put them wherever and hope for the best. Now to just keep them alive for the season and second guess every decision.
Good News! This can all be prevented with a little beforehand planning and preparation. I wanted to share some of my tips for plotting out your garden and how I personally save myself from some of my own neuroticism (I said some not all).
First and foremost, get an accurate size of your gardening plot and an idea of how much sun hits each part of it. This is extremely important so that you can properly space and arrange everything you want to fit in your space. See those artichokes in the Rosebird Market Garden layout? Yeah those puppies are massive. Like something out of a horror movie about a man-eating plant huge. They were given about 30 square feet to spread out in and are still dominating. Luckily we're huge fans of spinach artichoke dip...
Secondly, make a list of your favorite veggies and get to researching! Find out their mature size, amount of sunlight needed, and approximate yield per plant. This will help dictate how many plant you need, how far to space them from each other, and where to place them in relation to other varieties. Going back to my
Audrey II example, artichokes can grow to about four feet wide and just as tall. They also need plenty of sun and are currently yielding about 15-20 artichokes per plant with good care. Considering I sell some excess produce at the Kingman Farmer's Market I figured about two plants would give us more than we needed for our kitchen with plenty of left over to fund my gardening addiction. I then placed both plants at the North side of the garden to keep them from blocking sun from their friends and marked out a good amount of space for them.
The final consideration I make is companion planting. **Be forewarned, this is where things can get kind of complicated. Its totally ok to skip this until you have a better handle on things but I promise you, once you incorporate this permaculture principle life with get a little easier and your harvest will be a little tastier. I'll go into this a little further in future posts.** At the basic level, certain plants when planted near each other work symbiotically in a number of ways. This could be by warding off pests that typically plague a plant, or by infusing nutrients into the soil, or by simply providing some much needed shade at the base of a tall plant (let's face it though there's really no escaping the summer heat in a Southwest garden). In the case of monster artichoke, planting legumes nearby will help fertilize the soil and provide the companion plant with a much needed dose of nitrogen (legumes contain bacteria within their roots that actually produce this nitrogen and release it into the soil when they die). It'll save you the work of fertilizing every few weeks (and mental capacity of having to remember to do so). Who knows it may also save your life...
Still unsure and want some help? Book a consult with us and we'll give you a personalized lesson and your very own garden layout to get you started.