Have you been wondering what that new green (and possible shiny) badge is located on the side of the blog?
<————– (That one)
A new growing challenge
Back in November last year I was approached by a guy called Matt Hiemstra who runs a Garden Communications website over in Canada. Matt has been building a new community of like minded people who want to grow their own food and share their experience on-line through social media called Garden Connect.
The idea behind it being that if growers from all over the world grew the same types of vegetables, in the same way, at the same time of year it would be rather interesting to see how each person’s crops progressed and the harvest each country produced (or states and counties within each country).
The other part to this idea is that it’s not about taking up much space. It’s about keeping the growing space to a manageable size so everyone can have a go.
I was very keen to take up this challenge for three good reasons:
- Although I’ve got raised beds I’ve not experimented with square foot gardening properly, which this feels like, so to be able have a go at this type of growing while at the same time getting support sounded like a great idea to me
- I’m always on the look out to grow new varieties of vegetables and this gave me a perfect excuse to do so as I wouldn’t be taking up vast amounts of cultivation space in the garden.
- It’s great to be able to share results and methods with other cultivators like myself and share with my readers too.
Using the layout that Matt has come up with, and the size of my raised beds being 3m sq. It has meant that I will not include the sweet peppers (because I’m growing chillies in a separate grow house), and I shall add the nasturtiums to a container to the side of the beds. This then leaves me with 10 other sections to plant.
With my bed being 3sq meters I spent a great deal of time on Sunday working with plans and calculating the desired space each variety of vegetable would have. My 3sq meters mean I have a rather odd amount of plotting area. In fact it works out to 2.25m sq. (2.21 sq foot) per vegetable plot. 75cms length and 30cm width which is slightly larger that the square foot garden and sounds rather more complicated than it should be but that’s me all over! I’m pleased though that I’ve got slightly extra space to do this as ultimately I should be able to put in more plants to each section.
I eagerly purchased all the seeds required (plus a few more, well who can’t resist seed packets?!).
Then I started to calculate the space requirements for the various veggies, which basically involves reading on the plant packets the distance required between each plant (not the space between each row), to get how many in a row, then use that same spacing for the second row, and the third and finally until the whole space is used up. This way less space is used than in traditional line spacing methods allowing for more crops on a smaller scale to be grown because you’re growing across, downwards, horizontally etc.
If that fails you can also use a rather nifty on-line spacing calculator. 😉
This exercise brought up one or two interesting results:
- Each of my 2.25sq m areas means some veggies I’ll be able to plant up to 12 plants per space, while others I’ll only be able to get one plant in. This one plant problem would be the same if it was 1 sq ft or 4 sq ft.
- I wish I could remember how many cm’s to an inch because some calculations were in inches, others in cm’s!
- There are 101 different spacing distances for carrots depending on what you read, the seed packet, the on-line, books, magazines – each said something different. (I’d love to know who’s definitive).
The raised bed is almost complete, however spring onions are still in soil of this bed as they seem to store better outside. I’m still harvesting these so it might be a couple more weeks before I the bed is finally complete.
Trying to be as organised as possible I’ve put my seed packets in order of being sowed which meant the parsnips and cucumber have both been sown indoors.
My expectations about this type of gardening:
Before I start this experiment it’s always good to hold a few ideas as to what I think will happen. That way I can evaluate my expectations late on in the year.
- I don’t expect to harvest great quantities of veg. I say that because of the small spaces involved. I’ve heard great things about higher yields in smaller spaces so I hope I’m proved wrong!!
- I imagine more time being spent managing the overall plot to make sure weeds, and pest’s don’t take over at the early stages.
- I have no idea in terms of what will grow, flower and produce first, nor how long the the season will last with so many different varieties of veggies.
- I have no idea how this type of growing impacts on soil structure and levels of nutrients held within the growing mediums, and how crop rotation is maintained.
- I’m expecting watering to be much easier as so many plants will hold the water better.
So that’s where I am.
I’ll blog again for Garden Connect on a monthly basis until the plants are in the raised bed. After that I hope to add in lots of pictures and start blogging once a week with updates.
Until next time – get your name down with Matt and join the community 🙂
Cover photo courtesy of Amanda Siska