Garden Planning

I just found an excellent help for planning your garden. It is http://www.incompetech.com /. It draws grid/graph paper in almost any configuration. I have staked a claim to a block that is 40' X 54' so I designed a grid that is 40 x 52. I could make it a full 54 by reducing the square size. The site is very interesting. You can also print calendars for the whole year or certain months. I think I will print out certain month calendars and record amount of produce harvested that day.
Now to decide what I want to plant.
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Susan N.

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Well, you don't want to get too fixed or your going to have problems from not rotating crops, probably (not that our usual rotation cycles of 4-5 years are fully adequate for most of the things they are supposed to be protecting us from, so perhaps you can get away with it for a while, but...)
As such, something like a set of beds for tall crops in different rotations and a set of beds for short crops in different rotations, and trellises you can move may work better than "a melon bed" or other such fixed places/furniture for annual crops. Depending what you intend to do with your tractor in the long haul, you may want to not have permanent beds so that you can till the whole garden with it and make new beds/paths each year - or not.
I can't claim to have anything like perfection (far from it most years), but you'll also notice that most garden planning books stick to drawings, because reality is always messier than the design...
I would try separating out the perennials, and using them - after a few years they give more food with less work - so strawberries, blueberries, rasberries, blackberries, asparagus, etc. - if you eat it and it grows on a plant that doesn't need to be planted every year, and you can grow in your climate, plant it. Grapes too, though I have to say my personal luck with those is terrible. Tree crops also, if you like, but that's a longer term project (however - the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, and the second-best time is now, as the old saying goes, so if you are going to, get started on it.)
For books, I like to imagine I could ever keep up with the stuff in
The American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia_of_Gardening
and I think it's a good general reference, though not perfect either. Includes lots of flower stuff as well as vegetable gardens. See what your library has.
Eliot Coleman's 4_Season_Harvest
is a good read, and has some planning ideas, but I can't say everything I've tried out of it has worked by any means.
You could try a landscape architect in theory, but in practice I think few if any of them grasp vegetable gardens, though perhaps they should. If you have a school that teaches the subject you could offer to be a design client/victim for the students and see if they offer up anything that you think would work (go for looking at the designs, rather than committing in advance to actually constructing one - but if you like one, you might be able to give them some hands-on in putting it together, too.)
My own garden has changed over time as I've worked it over and given up and reworked it. At one point I had a giant bed (no space wasted on useless paths!) 5 feet wide and 50 feet long, because I could reach in 30 inches. Too bad I didn't try reaching in 30 inches and actually pulling a weed or picking something when I was in the design phase for that. Next iteration was 40 inches, latest is 30 inches. I could straddle the 40 inch beds with some effort, but at 30 so can my partner, and I can more easily. So, I now give up a lot of space to "useless" paths. Without it I had a lot of "useless" garden space getting away from me. The "useless path space" should be wide enough to take your wheelbarrow or garden cart or whatever you use to move lots of stuff around the garden - perhaps your main paths should even fit your tractor.
If you can bear the effort and expense, a wall around the garden is probably good, and offers more climate buffering than a fence - if not, a serious, tall and well-built fence will pay dividends one day. More critters than you like your produce.
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Ch. Villandry may give you some inspiration. <http://www.chateauvillandry.fr/en/gardens/latest-photographs/?date 12- 05#photo-actu-showcase-template>
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Steve B wrote:

There are many landscaping and whole garden planning books but few specialising in food gardens. Several on conventional growing of the kind 'grow your own veges' have chapters on planning and design and then there is permaculture which is (nearly) all about food. Both points of view are well worth the look. Head for the library.
A few tips:
- Measure the area and draw scale plans before you lift a shovel. Don't make paths too narrow for a barrow. - Dig some test holes to discover your soil profile. - Consider where the sun will be at different times of day and the year. Get an ephemeris! - Consider where ground water will run, do you need to improve drainage, save water or both? What kind of irrigation suits your situation and budget best? - Where and when does the wind blow, do you need a wind break or to reduce mould by having air circulation? - As others have said don't have fixed crops in beds, rotate summer and winter and types of crops. Most are annuals, some are biennials or perennials, think where the last will go. - Where will tool/potting sheds, chicken houses, compost heaps etc go. Don't hide them too far away! - Do you need to bring in equipment or loads of soil, where will that go?
David
PS
Don't plant corn in rows but in blocks.
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