Saturday, December 12, 2009

basics of gardening

The next step in the process of building your first garden is the actual design of what sort of beds and methods that you will be using. Depending on your location and soil type as well as the ultimate goals you have for your garden one type or another may be better suited to your needs. Perhaps a blend of a couple styles is more suited for you. Investigate a little bit more into styles that pique your interest and go from there in making your decisions.

traditional single row planting
Planting in neat, tidy rows allows for good air circulation, easy weeding and easy harvesting, but single rows of plants take up more space than wide rows thus somewhat limits how much one can grow in a small area.

wide row planting
Wide rows are when you plant long blocks of vegetables Width of rows varies but is normally 2-4 foots wide. Rows shouldn’t be so wide that you can’t comfortable reach into the center of them, from either side. Wide rows let you cram more plants into less space. Without the spacing and paths in between, you can get up to 6 times more vegetables in a wide row than in a conventional single row.Wide rows act as their own mulch. They shade out weeds, keep the soil most and require less watering. . In areas with high humidity crowding of plants in dense plantings can exacerbate any too much moisture problems that you have. A very popular variation of this is called square foot gardening. I personally prefer using the same principals of SFG but in the wide bed configuration.

english style gardens
A very informal setup of a garden based upon english tea gardens. Flowers, herbs and veggies are all planted amongst one another in hopes of balancing out the insects both good and bad thus relieving the gardener of most tasks in the garden. On a bigger scale this style of garden would be going along the lines of permaculture.

four-Square gardens
The Pennsylvania Germans are credited with coming up with this garden layout . Four-square refers to the garden being divided into four equal parts with narrow paths in between. The beds themselves were usually raised slightly. Although we know them best as four-square, they can be divided into any number, to make the garden easier to maintain. The raised beds mean that you never walk on the planting soil, so it never gets compacted.Splitting the garden into sections is handy when it comes time to rotate your crops. If you choose to grow perennial crops, like asparagus and rhubarb, you can devote a bed to them, where they won’t be disturbed when you cultivate.The soil in raised beds drains better than level soil and it warms faster in the spring. Four-square gardens are semi-permanent structures, so if you plan to move or enlarge your garden, they’ll be more work.

lowered bed gardens
A lowered bed is much the same as a raised bed and intensive gardening, but, rather than building the soil up into a bed, you build the bed into the ground and make the entire bed slightly lower than the surrounding area. This method of gardening is highly recommended in areas of extreme dryness and drought because you can water directly into the lowered beds and then mulch to keep the moisture in.

Here are a few other methods of gardening that are not a system so much as a way of making the most out of your gardens.

vertical gardening
Vertical gardens are not so much a style of garden but more of a method of gardening within the garden itself. They tend to be associated with intensive garden systems but it doesn't mean they are limited to them. It will work in any garden system. Vertical gardening simply means using, trellises, ti-pi's, string , nets, cages or poles and growing upward rather than having the plants sprawling on the ground. This system will work with any vining or sprawling plants, but, it also means that the plants dry out quicker than they would if run along the ground.

Growing two or more types of vegetables, her bs or flowers in the same place at the same time is known as inter-planting. Proper planning is essential to obtain high production and increased quality of the crops planted.To successfully plan an inter-planted garden the following factors must be taken into account for each plant. The length of the plant's growth period, its growth pattern , possible negative effects on other plants, preferred season, and light, nutrient and moisture requirements. Inter-planting can be accomplished by alternating rows within a bed by mixing plants within a row, or by distributing various species throughout the bed. Often times people inter-plant herbs and flowers amongst the crops because of the benefits. Again this method sort of goes back to the English tea gardens and perma-culture but will work in any type system of gardening.

succession and relay planting
Succession planting is an excellent way to make the most of an intensive garden. To obtain a succession of crops, plant something new in spots vacated by spent plants. Corn after peas is a type of succession. Planting a spring, summer, and fall garden is another form of succession planting. Cool season crops (broccoli, lettuce, peas) are followed by warm season crops (beans, tomatoes, peppers), and where possible, these may be followed by more cool season plants, or a winter cover crop. Relaying is another common practice, consisting of overlapping plantings of one type of crop. The new planting is made before the old one is removed. For instance, sweet corn may be planted at 2-week intervals for a continuous harvest.

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