This post is a little over due, but better late than never, right?
All of the annual beds are planted! I’m experimenting with square foot gardening, polycultures, and guilds. Here’s what we tried this year:
We have 8 beds of different sizes. They all wrap the circular lawn area, with the inner parts of the curves facing the uphill direction of the topography. Here’s a view of what we’re working with.
The smallest, top left bed has parsnips, chard, kale, and marigolds. The center left bed has 4 different kinds of heirloom tomatoes (bought from the Timm family, local organic farmers who sell plants and produce at the Plainview Farmer’s Market), different colored sweet peppers, purple and green basil, carrots, garlic chives, and marigolds.
Moving across the sidewalk, we have our brassica beds. In the larger one, we have broccoli, cauliflower, and Romanesco broccoli (which I call fractal broccoli, because it grows in a perfect fractal shape!), red and yellow onions, beets, and marigolds.Here’s what it looked like right after planting. I grew the brassicas from seed in my college apartment under a grow light. It was so exciting to see them go into the ground! A few weeks later, look how big they’ve grown!
The arrangement of the beds was very experimental. First, I consulted a few different resources regarding companion planting. The University of Minnesota Extension was helpful, and so was a book called “Carrots Love Tomatoes” by Louise Riotte. After placing the annuals into groups, we looked at the spacing requirements for each different plant. The book “How to Grow More Vegetables: And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine” by John Jeavons was also helpful. We laid out seeds to get the proper spacing before we planted and mulched with straw.
Moving back to the lower left side bed, we have watermelon, cantaloupe, and marigolds. In the center left bed, we are experimenting with this trellis to maximize plating space. Growing up the trellis, we have cucumbers. underneath we have bush beans, and flanking the sides we have radishes and marigolds.
The right center bed is a variation of a three sister’s guild. In this bed, we have decorative corn, a dry pole bean variety, yellow squash, and a few radishes. The lower right hand bed is another variation of the three sister’s guild. In this bed there is sweet corn, pole beans, zucchini, a few radishes and marigolds. And then there’s other things growing that we didn’t plant, but are indicators of a healthy biological system. Here’s one of the many mushrooms that have started growing out of the sheet mulch, next to some common wood sorrel and grass.
Our next tasks in the garden will include de-constructing the landscape that is currently in place, cutting down a dying maple tree, and sculpting some earth works in the yard.