Wednesday, November 26, 2008

2009 Tentative Garden Plan

As you may have guessed from my 2008 Harvest Wrap Up post, I'm now a firm and converted believer in the Square Foot Gardening method for us urban or suburban gardeners. There is simply no better way to get so much from so little space. And in terms of labor, it was certainly a total breeze even with a full time job, family requirements and even the occassional need to travel. Basically, I love it.

Of course, now I need more. Yes, more beds. I've been measuring and mulling for a few months now and I've come up with a new arrangement that will allow me to put in 2 additional 4x8 foot beds, which more than doubles my growing space. I'm also putting in a little side area that I'll use for squash and such. And not to be forgotten, I'll be building potato boxes off to the side also. Those 50 big containers will also still be gettting a workout.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. So from the top:

Goal 1: Produce 75% of my veggies for fresh eating. Last year was far less, with many gaps in production I intend to close.
Goal 2: Produce sufficient to can or dehydrate or freeze a further 50% of my veggies needs for the entire year for one person. While I did very well in this respect this year, it was supplemented with corn, berries and tomatoes purchased at a local farm. I also ran out of my yummy Rare Breed (TM) marinara sauce before the tomato plants even died!
Goal 3: Grow 3 new things.

Now, that doesn't sound too bad does it? Yeah...right! Below are some images of the slides I've made of the intended plan after much diddling about. This isn't certain yet since I'm getting a very important second opinion before the work begins.

You'll notice on all the beds next year I'm really going to take advantage of interplanting more than I did this year. I simply didn't know enough or have enough confidence to work this sort of plan. But the numbers don't lie and the yield can be vastly increased by putting those little fast growers around the bases of the slow ones.

In Bed 1, I intend to plant some of the Tomatoes, Peppers and Cukes relatively early, while others I'll grow in slightly larger starter pots to be transplanted as spring harvest completes later. It is sort of an experiment since this year I didn't have enough data to determine what differences the time spacing made in harvests. I'm kicking hard on providing more onions since I used up all mine by the first week of November this year.

In Bed 2, I'm doing much the same as Bed 1 with more tomatoes, eggplants and peppers and lots of interplanting.

Bed 4, which was in use this year, is going to be moved to a more advantageous spot and put into heavy production. Bed 3, my champion bed this year, is in the prime spot for an experiment in the 3 Sisters Method of growing. I've used the spacing of tall corn listed in the SFG book and worked everything else around it, but I am worried that only 2 squash should go in between rather than 4. For those who aren't familiar with the method, it is the standard Native American method and it is increasingly popular again for very good reason. The corn, planted first, provides the support for a couple of climbing beans planted a couple of weeks later. The beans, in turn, provide nitrogen fixing for the heavy feeding corn. The squash, planted last, provides cooling shade to the roots of corn which really helps it grow during high summer, shades out weeds and keeps moisture in the soil. Pretty sweet arrangement!

Bed 5, which is the one I put to the side of my house is in a position to have extended spring, milder summer temps and an extended fall. As a matter of fact, this is the bed that produced brandywine tomatoes and pole beans until November 10th, even after 2 freezes. It is just in a perfect sheltered spot. Since I've been able to grow lettuce there all summer, I'm going to really leverage that this next year.

All the herbs that I had scattered all over are going to be concentrated in pots this year. The misc list shows some of my other goodies and includes my new items like Watermelon, Sunflowers and Luffa. The apple trees are brand new and not expected to produce for a couple of years and the coffee beans that sprouted are actually taking a nose dive right now and will probably be replaced soon.

So, to make this blog post even more ridiculously long, I'm going to put in my harvest estimates based on the above plan. Yes, it is a bit optimized. I counted all carrots and beets and other single root crops as harvested, even though many will be pulled early and some may not make it. Others are based on what I got from each plant this year, like eggplant and tomato. If anyone sees anything totally out to lunch here, please do let me know!

Harvest Estimates from Planting Plan in Beds 1 through 5


Carrots – 168 each
Beets – 144 each
Radishes – 72 bulbs
Onions – 60 bulbs
Cauliflower – 12 heads
Snap Pea – 24 plants
Peas – 32 plants
Cabbage – 4 heads
Brussels Sprouts – 8 plants worth (20-30 per)
Lettuce – 20 plants
Broccoli – 5 plants worth (5 main heads, many small sides)

Tomato – 24 plants in beds (more in pots), unknown quantity, aiming for 200 pounds, hoping for more!
Cucumbers – 4 plants, unknown quantity
Eggplant – 9 plants, usually 5 pounds or more per plant in beds
Peppers (hot and sweet) – 15 plants, unknown mix or quantity
Bush Beans (green beans) – 99 plants, unknown yield, usually ¼ pound per plant

Multi-Season Harvest
Leeks – 32 bulbs (fall harvest)
Parsnips – 64 each (early winter harvest)
Acorn Squash – 3 plants, unknown harvest, usually 3-5 per plant
Corn – 16 plants, usually 1-3 ears per plants
Pole Beans – 32 plants, long harvest, usually ½ pound per plant
Yellow Squash – 2 plants, usually 7-10 pounds per plant
Zucchini – 2 plants, usually 7-10 pounds per plant

Fall Planting for Early Winter Harvest
Not yet completely decided since it will depend on earlier harvests but estimates are:
Carrots – 144 to 288 each
Beets – 144 each
Peas – 64 plants
Cauliflower – 16 heads
Brussell Sprouts – 16 plants (20-30 per plant)
Brocolli – 8 main heads with many side shoots
Cabbage – 8 heads

Harvest Estimate from Planting Plan for Containers and Side Areas
Sunflowers – 20 Heads for seed
Yellow Squash – 2 to 3 plants
Zucchini – 2 to 3 plants
Luffa – 2 plants
Butternut Squash – 2- 3 plants
Strawberries – unknown number of plants
Potatoes – 20 to 50 pounds each from 2 potato boxes
Cucumbers – Several in pots and in flower beds
Peppers – All extra starts in pots and flower beds
Roma Tomatoes – more in pots

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