Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Friday, June 19, 2009

New Raised Beds Layout

Over the past weekend we worked on two new raised garden beds (more here). The beds are being created while we are continuing to rip out existing vegetation so the new beds were not planned using Garden Manager software mainly because the beds were going in late spring. I would have to reboot in Windows as well since this software is not Mac compatible. I've been using the combined with square foot gardening method combined with companion plantings in raised beds for 8 years now. Over the years I have learned a lot with respect as to what I can and can't do with this type of gardening. The grid is critical for square foot gardening. This year the beds are being laid out very similar to my former large square food garden as they are created because this layout has been tried and tested. However, the layouts are being designed for maximized planning for the 2010 growing season that will begin as soon as the first seed catalogues of the 2010 season arrive.

bed 1 garden planBed 1

I used MS Word for windows to create a template for the garden beds. If you have followed this blog you will know I number my beds usually in order of creation. This is simply for reference. At the top of the template I put the label 'bed _____' which is important not only for the working sheets but also the final layouts. Each bed is 4' x 10' so I created a table consisting of 4 columns and 10 rows. That gave me 40 cells representing the 40 squares I have to work with in each bed. I use a separate layout sheet for each bed. The beauty of planning using a computer is you can easily change the cells as desired until you get what you want then plant according to your plan when it is finished. I printed off a copy then set about working with the plant I had.

A square foot garden bed should not be planted willy nilly. It should be planted according to the grid. The location and sun exposure needs to be considered. I like to lay the beds in a north to south orientation with taller plants at the north end of the bed and shortest plants at the south end. This maximizes sun exposure for all the plants. I plant parsley and other plants that rabbits like to munch on, towards the centre of the bed and behind a barrier of marigolds. This technique worked well for my former garden but I will be adding a low fence around the entire perimeter of this garden. Each plant is then set in place and recorded on the working copy. For bed 1 where all of the plants are annuals there is no need to include the scientific names on either the working sheet or the computerized copy but they are indicated in my gardening journal along with notations as to their performance and any problems.

Pictured is the layout for Bed 1 consisting mainly of tomatoes, peppers and greens. Thirty-two of the 40 squares are currently planted. Over the following week I will be checking the local nurseries for any compatible plants I can pop in these squares. The nice thing about buying plants late in the season is their prices are greatly reduced. With a little TLC they will perform quite nicely as well.

herb garden planHerb Bed

Bed 2 is the herb garden consisting of perennials, biennials and annuals. The herb bed takes a bit more planning. Unlike an annual bed, only portions of this bed layout will change over the next several years. Over time the grid becomes non-existent unless it is constructed from a material that doesn't break down. Plant identification tags have a tendency to go missing as well. I like to use the computerized copy of the layout as later identification of the various herbs. I include the botanical names as well to avoid confusion as there are often more than one cultivar of the herb growing in the bed. Above the name of each herb I indicate in brackets whether the herb is perennial, biennial or annual. It really helps with the overall herb bed planning because at some point there won't be room for the annual herbs as the perennial and biennial herbs spread.

It is important if considering any invasive herb especially those in the mint family to contain them in pots dug into the space, plant them in their own small raised beds or confine them to areas where spreading is restricted. If this is not done they will quickly take over your herb bed choking out the other herbs. So choose your herbs wisely!

Twenty-six of the 40 available squares are planted. From experience sage and chives get quite large so over time will likely take up the end 8 square feet but for now they will only take up one square each. The squares around these two herbs will be planted with annuals for the time being with the exception of lavender started from seed. I have not had good luck starting lavender from seed but if successful I will move the plant to a more appropriate location. In the meantime I have a few herbs started indoors to be transplanted to the garden when they are ready and I will again be checking the nurseries.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome


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