Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maximizing Garden Space

I'm always trying to squeeze the most use out of the space as possible. Successive planting help greatly. In the past when we finished harvesting a garden area, we planted a cover crop. This year we never had opportunity for cover crops because we were always planting a succession crop. When we pulled our peas, we planted late potatoes. Beans were replaced with late broccoli, etc. Some day we plan to extend our garden, but for now, I want to make the best use of each foot.

We did try several new things to stretch our garden space this year. One was planting pumpkins next to the fence, allowing the vines to grow into the pasture.
Last year, a volunteer gourd grew in this spot and I noticed that the cow in the pasture never touched the plant. I figured bovines must not like vine crops and planted pumpkins (notorious space hogs) along the electric fence behind the asparagus and grapevine. They grew lush and huge and, sure enough, the cow didn't touch them, not even eating the grass growing among the vine. At least for a while! One day, I found a huge section of the pumpkins were eaten. Not only were the vines trampled and eaten but large chunks were bit out of the pumpkins as well! It really didn't matter. We had a huge crop of pumpkins even after sharing with the cow!
But I doubt I would plant vines here again because the pumpkins grew up the grapevines. I didn't think it was good for the vines to share their space with pumpkins. Especially since we have struggled with black rot on our grapevines in the past.

The other experiment was growing sweet corn in the strawberry patch. After we finished harvesting the strawberries (end of June) we planted late sweet corn along each side of the two strawberry rows, making four rows of corn. We had some extra seed so I figured if it didn't grow it was no great loss. I just scratched a hole with a stick and pushed the seed in the ground, which was rather hard from being trampled on wet mornings while picking berries.
The shocking thing was that nearly every kernel of the corn grew! In our garden, where we had carefully tilled and hoed a neat row, our corn germination rate was horrible! Usually late corn is shorter and does not produce as well, but this corn took off! Whether it was our unusually cool wet summer, or the compost we've heaped on the strawberries or some unknown reason, it was some of the nicest sweet corn we have ever grown.

Gene Logsdon wrote in his berry book that he grows his best sweet corn in the old strawberry patch. Whatever the cause, it was a beautiful patch of corn. Now the real test will be to see how the strawberries do next year. They didn't seem to mind sharing their space. I think the corn helped to shade out some of the weeds and we were careful to make sure their was adequate water for both crops. If it works, it would be a great way to maximize garden space by growing two crops in the same area.

Do you have any ideas for making the best use of your garden space?

1 comment :

  1. very interesting...I have been tucking all sorts of extra things that I ran out of space for in my strawberries. Maybe I'll try corn next year.

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