It's that time of year again. Time to get all those glorious, life giving, seeds in the ground. I'm taking a new approach to gardening this year. In years past, I have kept a garden mostly for hobby and because I love to see things grow and live. I've always enjoyed testing new plants. Can I grow this from a seed? I wonder if this will grow in my climate? Oooh I love these, I wonder if I can get them to grow in my garden even though they require sandy loose soil and mine is more clay? But over the last few years I have slowly migrated more toward gardening for food, not just for fun. I need my garden to supply me with enough food to enjoy and store for winter. I've been keeping a vegetable garden every summer for almost 10 years now and have learned many tips and tricks, and of course had a few mishaps along the way. This winter I spent some time researching companion planting. You can find many great websites and articles about it all over the internet. I used this guide http://www.howtogardenadvice.com/garden_info/companion_planting_chart.html
Companion planting's purpose is to use certain plants abilities to benefit surrounding plants. Such as, tall plants to block the sun from more tender shade loving plants; plants to deter pests from certain veggies; and to help with nitrogen levels that some plants need more or less of. Also some tall heavy plants can serve as a live trellis for pole beans to climb, such as corn stalks or sunflowers. I was hooked on the idea of companion planting from the start! I learned about companion planting by first researching square foot gardening. The two together work in perfect unison.
I started inquiring about new ways to plant my garden after a poor harvest last year. I have a 21' x 25' garden area. I have always made long symmetrical rows, planted seeds in the mound and watered in the ditch. With the exception of my tomatos and pepper which have always just been planted with a watering hole built up around them. Through the first few weeks of watering the garden, the "ditches" became hilled in the center and sloped on the ends. Leading to too much water on the ends of each row and not enough in the center. I dug the centers out, just to have them fill in again within a week or 2. You can imagine my disdain when the growing season came to an end and I had vegetables only on the ends of every row. Not to mention the amount of weeds growing in the watering ditches because I had a lack of knowledge about mulching! Also, with row gardening I always end up with too many of one thing and not enough of another. Maybe I only need 1/3 of a row of squash and 2 1/2 rows of corn, but hate trying to figure out how to plant more than one plant in each row without one blocking sun, or taking over the water supply, nutients, etc. So this year we are going to try square foot gardening. With 25 - 5'x5' squares I can plant many different types of vegetables with drip irrigation and plan them all out with companion plants. I hope this will save me on water wasting and help with weed control as I will be able to mulch and water each square individually. Plus have a small walkway between squares. (Did I tell you how hard it is the weed the very middle rows without killing all the surrounding rows plants?...yeah eventually I just gave up!) I hope this will simplify my gardening life just a little. I'll be sure to let you know how it's going. I plan on building my squares up this weekend and will post pictures when it's all finished.
This post is linked up to -
The Backyard Farming Connection Hop 30
The Homeacre Hop
Encourage One Another Wednesday Link-up 84
Green Thumb Thursday
Homestead Barn Hop 110