Planning A Harmonious Vegetable Garden

Planning & Beginning a Garden

Initial Planning

Choose a suitable garden area, based on access, soil, wanted size, light conditions, heat conditions, wind protection and water availability.

After choosing a site, List and plan on paper the initial ideas;

-rough size,

-plants that will be grown,

-amount of rows (500 mm apart), rows will be explained further on,

-water source positions etc.

Inspect the soil of the chosen garden spot. Make note of what plants are living in the soil. Check soil structure. If hard/clay/stony, then turn it over, with what is required and appropriate (fork, rotovator, plough etc). For clay add sand etc. For sandy soil add organic matter (leaves, grass cuttings, compost etc). If soil is soft, fine and crumbly then check for stones and remove roots of existing, invasive perennial plants. Soil nutrient content can often be figured out by the plants that are living in the soil. Roots of any annuals (marigold etc) can remain in the soil for soil nutrition.

For the first few years, the soil may need turning over fully, each winter or whenever is suitable, to keep on top of it – each site will be different. After a few years of cultivation, the soil will be able to be managed, a row at a time. For instance; When a row is harvested and it is not going to be sowed again with crops until the next season, then the soil is slightly prodded, and loosely worked. Then it is sown with an appropriate cover-plant like mustard, or it is covered over with live-cycle cover (leaves, grass, shredded twigs, wildflowers etc).

It is normal to take some time for planning, allow for inspiration to happen. Trust that Yahh will finish the process and that He will allow good fruits to be bourne. InI find it best to roll up a good 1, get a pencil, some paper, seeds, then go to the garden and begin planning. It will probably take a lot of erasing and a few times to get the final plan. Include paths, gates, water points and anything else which may be necessary in the plan.

img_4007

For a few years muddy, messy paths had to be put up with

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Eventually we acquired slabs for a few pathways 

Use the sections’ on plant neighbours and incompatibilities, to help make the plan.

Sow lots of erb seeds and/or acquire erb plants for the border of the garden. Starting the erbal seedlins early will allow some to be able to be planted around the border of the garden to create a protecting, erbal border. The border can also contain other annuals and perennials too.

Fence the site off, mark out paths, mark out vegetable rows and gates.

Plant erbs round the border – it does not matter if the whole border is not filled or even empty – over time it can be added to with more erbs until filled.

Planting Chives in Erbal Border


Here is a erbal border around a small vegetable garden


Avoid sowing and / or planting if the ground is wet. This will preserve the soil from compaction.

The erbal border has a tremendous impact on the health of the garden, inside its boundaries, and out.

Lavender is said to be priority. Followed by sage, chives, rosemary, hyssop, and many others listed in the erbal section.

The border can be planted in any way with any mixture of erbs (be carefull with erbs like wormwood as mentioned in the erbal section). Bees and butterflies, as well as many other beneficial garden friends will thrive from the border.

After several years certain erbs will want replacing /swapping around, while others can be lifted, split up and replanted. Splitting  often provides some new plants.

Examples of erbs for border;

Lavender, Sage, Rosemary, Hyssop, Lovage, Angelica, Cummin, Coriander, Rue, Thyme, Salad Burnet, Mugwort, Lungwort, Catmint (be careful of attracting cats),  Lemon Balm, Chives, Costmary, Sorrel, Tarragon, Valerian, Wormwood.

What Plants Are Suitable For the Different Rows

1 / A = Long season plants,

2 / B = Medium season plants,

3 / C = Short season plants.

Order rows with 123 or ABC or 3 labels if you want. The number 1 rows are set 2 meters apart. Basically you can keep repeating the rows 1-3-2-3-1-3-2 ……. until wanted or until space is ended. These are only examples, most plants can be fit into 2 categories, like beetroot can grow in  a middle term 2 / B row or a quick term, 3 / C row.

 ‘1 / A‘ rows want a ‘pre-seeding’ crop before the time the main crop goes in, as they usually go in about May;

Kannah-Besem,

Tomato ,

Corn ,

Peas ,

Runner beans ,

Cucumbers ,

Late cabbage ,

Broad Beans,

Potatoes,

Courgettes., etc.


In between two ‘1 / A‘ rows, are the B rows. These rows can be for plants which grow either in the first half or in the second half of the growing year. Examples are;

Semi-Autofloweriing Kannah-Besem,

leeks,

onions,

black salsify,

cauliflower,

celeriac,

beans,

spring greens,

beetroot,

parsnip,

spinach etc.

Each of these rows will yield at least 2 full crops.

 Between the 1 / A rows and the 2 / B rows, at a distance of 50cm are 3 / C rows; plants for 3 / C rows are:

Auto-flowering Kannah–Besem ,

Carrots ,

onion sets/bulbs raised from seed ,

lettuce ,

endives ,

kohlrabi ,

fennel, .

These ‘3 / C’ rows are set with short-lived plants with small, low growth. They grow for a short time only and then make way for other, similar plants. They like the light shade of neighbouring plants. We often consume these the most and there is a concession (repeating) of crops, often 3 per year.

These rows provide the household with a variety of regular, nutritious food. After early varieties of 1 species, there can follow a late version of another species (For example spring carrots may be followed by a type of late lettuce or other salad crop). These 3 / C rows will produce 2 and often 3 crops, 1 after the other. If an 1 / A row is planted with something big/wide spreading like large sativa Kannah-Besem or cucumbers, the 3 / C rows to either side will likely be overtaken.

This carrot row is about to be harvested, before the Kannah-Besem overtakes it.

Some crops can go in different rows, like carrot fits into 2 / B rows and 3 / C rows, cauliflower can go in 1 / A rows or 2 / B rows.

There are many-sided, beneficial and well-balanced effects in companion and mixed planting which is visible to the naked eye, but not in that part alone; further advantages arise from the encouragement given to the micro-organisms in the soil and problems to do with the rotation of crops are also irrelevant.

The success or otherwise of a companion-planted garden depends on the row system. The labels must not be re-arranged during the year and there must always be double/succession (one after the other) sowings or plantings in the same rows. In a garden of this type, order is the 1st pre-requisite for success.

Choosing What To Grow And What Not To Grow

Choosing what will be grown should be based on what will be eaten (do not be distracted in trying to grow lots of different things for the sake of it), do not take too much on – if someone is offering free plants only take them if you need them, have the space and are willing and able to care for them. If the space allows, have an area set aside for experimenting with new techniques/combinations and for plants that the I is not familiar with. Incorporate plants into your proper vegetable garden when comfortable and confident in growing them. Initially begin by thinking of what is required /consumed the most.

It is important that these incompatible combinations are avoided whenever possible;

Beans and Onions,

Cabbages and Onions,

Red cabbages and Tomatoes,


Parsley and Cabbage lettuce,

Beetroots and Tomatoes,

 Potatoes and Onions.

It is not good to put spinach as a preliminary crop before beetroot, mangolds (shard/chard) or orach (fat hen)
.

Try your own combinations out, as long as they are not the above it will probably work well. Plants grow with other plants in ‘communities’. The soil type, local climate, light and water availability are what chooses the plants that can grow in an area. Vegetables grow very well when planted in ‘communities’ and being interplanted with other plants. Also they are protecting each other, vibrating and helping each other through residues and smells (above and below ground) which we cannot always perceive with our senses.

Examples Of Plants That Make Good Combinations and Neighbours

Kannah-Besem/Fennel

Kannah Besem/Parsnip

Kannah-Besem/All Beans and Peas

Kannah Besem/Most types of Grasses

Beans/Brassicas

Brassicas/Beetroot

Tomatoes/Parsley

Tomatoes/Onions

Tomatoes/Brassicas

Tomatoes/Celeriac

Tomatoes/Beans

Carrots/Onions

Parsnips/Onions

Lettuce/Radish

Lettuce/Beans

Lettuce/Cucumbers

Lettuce/Beans

Lettuce/Beetroot

Lettuce/Mangolds

Peas/Brassicas

Peas/Celery

Celery/All types of Greens, Especially when mixed in rows

Cucmbers/Brassicas

Potatoes/Brassicas

Take advantage of such an easy method of pest control. These easy methods are not only cost free, but are non-polluting. What goes on at root level, undetected by us, is important in the reciprocal effect of each plant on it’s neighbours. Combined with things like liquid feeds / sprays, companion planting makes growing plants much easier.

Spreading and Big Plants

Plants like Kannah-Besem, potatoes, cucumbers for example, often affect the row on either side of them if they spread / grow big. The row on each side may become un-sow-able, however, even in the shade of big Kannah-Besem plants some plants still grow very well.


Although rows can have 2 or 3 sowings a year (carrots, lettuce, salads like rocket , cress, mustard etc), when something like cucumber is reaching them, then the row will be harvested, but not re-sown like usual to allow the plant to spread – bear this in mind when planning. It may be possible to have 1 or 2 crops from 1 of these C rows but then the row will be overtaken by the bigger plants, growing in the row between, as shown above.

No Need for Crop Rotation if Row Planting, Instead Swap the Rows with Paths Fach New Growing Season

There is so much variety of different plants that all minerals and elements will be present – all crops grow good; due to generous row space, variety of plants, soil cover, organic feeds and re-sowing of rows.

Where the live-covering paths were the previous year, becomes the crop rows the following year:

Planning garden year 1 and 2jpg

Year 3 – Move rows along

In the third year, the layout will progress so that the rows and paths are set-out the same way as the 1st year, with the addition of the row content being moved along 1 row. It can be in any direction. In this example, each row is moved along to the right, and the 1st row becomes a 3 / C.

Year 1 and 3jpg

Light Work

After harvesting a row, re-sow immediately, with another vegetable crop if suitable, or a cover plant like mustard – the soil should not be turned over (unless a new site like discussed previously). This will bury the active soil under a layer of inactive soil and disturb the relationship and balance between the soil life. Instead, prod with a fork. A good tilth is produced even with such easy work, because the soil is in such a good, healthy condition, being maintained by plant’s roots, cover and lots of soil life.

Beginning the Plan

Mark out on paper the area, and mark down the row order. There is no exact way, so begin with any row; 1/A, 2/B or 3/C.

Example plans;





Label the rows with labels too. Include the crops that are to follow as well on the label;


Now that the rows are marked, the first seeds can be sown!!! Depending what time of year it is, begin with the appropriate seeds. Cover crops like mustard and early crops like carrots will likely be sown first.


Sow Bountifully

2nd Corinthinas 9:6) But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

Give thanks and praises. The garden has begun, with continuous, steady work and progress, may JAH provide good fruits.

Keep checking for future posts helping to maintain the health and happiness of a garden.

See this post;

Beginning a Harmonious Garden,

for ideas to begin starting the garden after it is planned.

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