Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Let's Make a Plan

 This week's forecast calls for highs in the 60's here,
I can finally get some garden chores completed
without the threat of rain or frigid temperatures.
One thing I've been working on is my spring garden plan.

2018 cucumbers

 One of the tools I've used in the past 
has been the free online planner offered by
Gardener's Supply Company.
You can find the tool here.
It's a great way to get started,
especially if you've never planned a garden.
I find it so helpful to be able to place the crops in the boxes,
and then tweak it as necessary.

Here's a preliminary plan for our hugelkultur bed.
You can vary the size of the beds easily
and there is a large list of popular plants from which to choose.

 This season, my focus will be on companion planting.
There is so much information on this topic,
and I thought it would be worth a try.
Recently, I've been reading books that covered the subject.
The best by far was Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte.
She offers simple explanations why certain veggies just love sharing space.

She also features a list of which plants don't really get along.
Instead of haphazardly planting what you have space for,
the idea is that by paying attention to which crops are neighbors,
the result will be better crop production and food quality.
It's worth a shot! 

2018 Yukon Gold potatoes

This year when I get my Yukon Gold potatoes started,
I will be adding bush bean, cabbage or nasturtiums to the outside of the wire hoops.
This will allow for the companion plant on the outside
to shade the potato foliage as it grows out of the hoops,
thus saving me from having to buy straw 
or bank the potato plants with additional soil. 
You can see how we created the potato cages here.

For folks who grow in rows, 
there is even a set of diagrams that suggest
how to place your companion plants.
It really doesn't get much easier than that!
For those of us who grow in raised beds or raised rows,
the principal is still easy to follow.

 Here's a rough sketch of the garden as it presently stands.
The structural parts are laid out,
and I can fill in what will go where as the season heats up.
For instance, I already know that I want runner beans to grow on the arches,
followed by melons later on in the season.
And presently in the two 4 X 4 raised beds, 
I have garlic and shallots growing,
which will have to remain there for a while longer.
There is still room in those smaller beds to add some companion plants around the perimeter,
like beets, carrots, kale, or spinach.
Not only is it beneficial for the established crop,
it will make the bed look so interesting with all of the varied colors, shapes, and textures.
The bonus is that it may confuse the bugs.

A master list of planting times for different veggies
(I only listed the ones I plan to grow),
makes the planning so much easier.
In March here in the Piedmont,
we can sow beets, carrots, kale, lettuce, and spinach.
So I will simply fill in any bare spots in those 4 X 4 beds
with one of these things I was planning on growing anyway.
Then I can fill in some of the other growing areas
with more of the same goodies.
It seems to be a more efficient use of space
and I'm hoping it will help with insect control.

It sure feels like spring,
but I know that Mother Nature is in charge.
Let's hope she's not feeling mischievous!


  1. We actually had 2 glorious days of (mostly) sun & warmer temps this week. It was amazing! Although we still have way too much snow piled up to even think about starting to plant, I can feel it's getting closer. I also really enjoy Carrots Love Tomatoes. It is one of the most helpful gardening books. Thank you for linking to your potato hoops. I will bookmark that so I can refer back to it in May. Thank you for another wonderful post!

  2. Those sunny days really get us looking forward to getting our hands dirty, don't they? Hoping you have gorgeous sunny skies ahead.


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