Feeling like a newbie all over again

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Feeling like a newbie all over again
« on: November 17, 2010, 17:13 »
Well as some of you know I have gone from half an allotment back to my little garden and made some raised beds there.  I'm not a real people person especially when they spray your plot with weedkiller.

Anyway, I'm trying to learn how to grow as much stuff as I can in a small area and I have to say I feel like I'm relearning everything.  I feel like a complete newbie again.

For example, all these years (well about 4 anyway) I've been planting my beans in the same bed as where I plant my onions (not directly on top you understand but next to them), only to be told I shouldn't be doing that.  I'm having to learn about intercropping and catch cropping, and I'm finding all my books tell me very little about that.

Its all fun don't get me wrong, but now I'm feeling a bit daunted about it.  I've planted up my overwintering onions and garlic wondering if I've done the right thing, and how the hell I'm going to grow first early potatoes, beans, cucumber, pumpkin, squash, courgettes, leafy veg and root crops, and maybe a bit of salad if I'm lucky all in a small area!  Time will tell, and military planning is in order.

Wish me luck, any advice to do with small raised bed planting and how to stuff it full of veggies is always welcome!




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Re: Feeling like a newbie all over again
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2010, 17:55 »
There is a school of thought that says to grow certan plants together (companion planting) as they benefit each other. e.g. growing onions next to carrots as the scent of the onions helps mask the carrots from carrot fly. Likewise some people beleive you shouldn't plant various crops together as they may be detrimental to each other.

I firmly in the camp that says grow what you fancy wherever you fancy, there are far too many other variables such as sunlight, temperature, availability of nutrients, water etc. to be too worried about what you plant next to what.

As far as crop rotaton is concerned in the size of plots we are generally talking about on here, I think its pretty muh a waste of time. I don't believe the bugs you had on one crop would hesitate to walk across the 500mm path to get to the next bed the following year, Anything fungal, the spores will be blown across that distance before you've even harvested this years crop. Within each bed your annual cultivations are going to distribute pests and diseases nicely anyway.

I have a bed of Asparagus (3 year old plants). This year I interplanted it with shallots and harvested my biggest shallots ever, yet we're told that the asparagus roots will fill the bed completely.

Squash are going to take up loads of space and can be grown in the same bed as beans and sweetcorn, apparently a traditional native American idea. This is interplanting/intercropping. Catch cropping is fitting in a quick crop while a bed or space is temporarily empty, perhaps some radishes or turnips after you'e cropped half your leeks but its still too cold to plant out the tomatoes on that spot, or even chucking a couple of lettuce in a space that is empty because on of your broad beans died.

In your small plot you'd best make use of that wall as well. Squashes could be trained up some trellis to leave the ground space for something else. Get rid of the shrubs at the end and get some fruit bushes in there. Strawberries in milk cartons up the fence (as described elsewhere on the forum).

Forget the military planning and go with the flow and carry on enjoying it. You'll have successes and failures and learn a lot doing it. Listen to what others may suggest but do your own thing in the end and have fun.



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Re: Feeling like a newbie all over again
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2010, 18:27 »
Thanks Triki.  I have already learnt that I can get bush varieties of pumpkin, squash and even cucumber, so that solves one issue, they won't trail all over the place.  Just feeding them will be fun as they're pretty hungry eaters.

If only I could dig up a patch of grass in the front garden, but then again I would still moan I didn't have enough room lol 

Its fun learning, and I'll play around with it for years to come no doubt.  At least I'm left to my own devices whilst I do it.



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Re: Feeling like a newbie all over again
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2010, 08:59 »
In such a small space, I would certainly include runner beans on my list of things to grow. You can grow them up a wigwam of 6 or 8 canes which take very little space on the ground but, if the soil is good, can bring you a really good crop with regular picking in season. Similarly with climbing French beans if you have the space.
I like broad beans but they can want a fair bit of space and, if you are limited, there are other things that are ready quicker.
If I can grow things in Shetland, then you can certainly grow things where you are!



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Re: Feeling like a newbie all over again
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2010, 10:11 »
I think those beds look perfect for the square foot gardening method, you'll be able to grow a bit of everything then  :D


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Re: Feeling like a newbie all over again
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2010, 10:21 »
That wall is calling out for shelving and containers.
What direction is it facing?



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Re: Feeling like a newbie all over again
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2010, 13:56 »
Ive got a similar space in back garden (3 raised beds about 1m x 2.2m), north facing but gets a lot of sun mid May - mid Sept.

I havent given an ounce of thought to companion planting, rotations etc.  Just plant things in such a way that enables me to maximise food for my hungry veg loving family!  So that means a mini Munty frame for beans across one whole bed (with the seeds right up against a long side), and 4 courgette plants underneath.  If its a good spring, a catch crop of little gem before the courgettes start sprawling.

In the second bed, its garlic (planted pretty close together in Novembe), perp spinach / chard, and calbrese (to be replaced by carrots next year).  Once there's space, I put in some PSB and Kale in this bed (started in large pots) around August when garlic and calbrese are finished.

The third bed is in most shade and has herbs (chives, coriander, parsley), salad, beetroot and some parsnips. 

Throughout all this I pop in leeks here and there (started in cat litter tray - they really take off, even in a cramped, shady spot once you put them in final position).

I only grow hanging basket toms (keep in sunny kitchen window until wife threatens divorce, then they're out in pots in very well sheltered, sunniest spot next to house wall with the fleece at the ready).  Was harvesting loads from late June this year, not bad for Perthshire  8)

Potatoes are in big tubs round side of house so quite heavy shade - generally do great though.

I also have a long border against a fence like yours.  Last winter I put in rhubarb, currants and some rasp canes.  Strawbs are in a separate tall patio planter.  Oh, I also squeeze in celery wherever I can find a partially shaded spot that retains moisture well (start celery pretty early indoors, then move to cold frame early April before planting out early May).

Hope that helps a bit.  Basically, I get a pretty good crop June through to end of September with no need for greenhouse.  Inevitably there's little in the way of winter veg (apart from stored garlic, a little kale / PSB / leeks / chard) but then there's only so much you can do with a small garden.

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