Monday, August 20, 2012

Planting Intensively

So you've taken the plunge and decided to start a garden.  Hopefully that means you have made 2 or 3 beds no wider that 4 feet and no longer than 32 feet like we talked about here.  You have dirt with high organic content that is easy to dig. Now what do you do?  As a beginning gardener, it is perfectly acceptable to go to the garden store and buy transplants.  But how many?  Where do they go?
Don't worry. The Maven will help.  Walk like you are an expert straight over to the seed packets and pick one up.  Let's say you want to grow some bell peppers. Excellent idea! Peppers cost an arm and a leg in the store, the plants give huge yields and are resistant to insects.
The seed packet says to plant the peppers 18" apart in rows 3-4 feet apart?  Why?  Because the pepper plants need 18" between them to not compete with each other for sunlight and the humans need 2 or 3 feet to walk between the rows.  But wait, Maven, we don't have rows!  We have beds!  Ahhhh... you catch on fast!  We are going to fill up  our bed with pepper plants!  (Of course, if you have long beds that may mean only a few feet of your whole bed.)  Why? Here's some great reasons:

  1. The yield goes sky high!  With 3 foot wide beds, you can plant 5 plants in the first 4 feet! The same 5 plants would take 8 feet in a single row, plus the tilled up aisles on either side.  To much wasted space and too many...
  2. WEEDS!  Planting your beds intensively, then mulching your baby plants with straw keeps the weeds way down! By the time your plants are full grown, the tops will be touching and shading the ground, which keeps weeds at bay and saves on ...
  3. Water.  Using an irrigation system or a soaker hose allows you to water the plants, and only the plants!  No need to water the aisles and make mud. Or happy weeds.
That's the why, here's the how:

  1. Make a triangle.  Get out your kid's Geometry book so you can remember how to bisect a line... No wait.  That really doesn't fit in this blog, does it?!  Cheap and dirty way...If you want a triangle 18" on each side, make 3 strips of paper 20 or so inches long.  Put a mark at 18" on each strip. Line up your 3 strips until all sides and angles look even.  Tape this together.  Place your pattern over a piece of tough paper and draw the shape.  Cut out and mark "18".  
  2. Take your triangle out to the garden to help you know where to plant baby plants or seeds.  I've shown you a picture here with okra, because it is so easy to see.  
  3. See how the okra is at 2 plants across, then 1?  The plants are still the right distance apart, it's just they are not in a line.  Cool, huh?  
  4.   Repeat the triangle game with 12", 6" and even 4".  You can use it to plant any seeds or transplants.
Well, you are off to a good start.  See you soon, there's a whole lot more!

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