Saturday, April 08, 2006

Plot Planning

I spent a wonderful afternoon yesterday preparing my garden plot for spring planting. I'm really excited about the garden this year. Okay, so I was really excited about it last year, too, but I feel like I've learned a lot since then and I have lots of new ideas, which is exciting. :P I've been reading gardening and permaculture books and magazines all winter, and my goal for the garden this year is to have every square inch be covered in healthy, thriving plants, and to have the plot be maximally productive. I read an article last week about a family who gardens on 1/10 of an acre and produces 3 tons - yes, tons - of food per year. It was extremely inspiring.

Some new things for my garden this year:

- Natural trellises! I spent two days last weekend at DeMara's parents' farm in Ranier, and with the help of her step-dad Kim, collected alder branches and built two wonderful funky pyrimidal trellises. They will be great supports for climbing sweet peas, snow peas, bush beans, nasturtiums, and anything else I can get that likes to climb. I will hopefully be going back to the farm soon to build a couple of other supports and things for which I have ideas.

- Paths! Since I'm planning on covering every inch of soil with plants, I figured I ought to have a way to get into the garden to water and harvest without killing things. So I collected stones and old mossy bricks from the back reaches of the garden where they had been discarded, and laid out a branching path running through my plot in two places. The stones are close enough together to make walking easy, but far enough apart that we can plant ground-cover in between them. Paul suggested Corsican mint, if we can find it cheaply enough.

- A bat box on top of our 15-foot-high bamboo corner pole. Paul is going to play around with some wood and hopefully make something that will attract bats. Even if it doesn't, it will be a fun conversation piece! :)

- Multi-story gardening. One of the things I want to build with more alder branches is a horizontal bar supported by triangular crossed-branch supports at either end. That way we can have tomatoes growing underneath, and hanging pots with herbs and things growing above! I also would love to have jasmine and/or morning glories on either side to grow up the supports.

- Rhubarb! I just bought a rhubarb plant at the farmer's market. I have always loved rhubarb, and was determined to grow my own this year. Since it's such a space-taking plant, I may end up putting it in the community area near the berries and fruit trees. It may run the risk of being harvested by others, but it will leave me a lot more space for other things in my plot. We shall see. I'm feeling rather possessive about my rhubarb plant at the moment, but maybe that will go away. :P

So, now all I need is a place to keep chickens and I will be all set! :)

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