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.
There are 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary and
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,
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
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
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.
Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by
Please don't feed the trolls. Killfile and ignore them so they will go away.
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
- 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?
Don't plant corn in rows but in blocks.
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