- crop rotation
- companion planting
- continuous planting (harvest a square & then replant something in its' place)
- sun/shade patterns
- water requirements of the plant groups
- soil requirements of the plant groups
This is an overview of my raised beds... well, most of them... from last spring. As you can see, I do like to intersperce flowers - even inedible ones, if they win my heart over - like these tulips that Livy's grandma sent over from The Netherlands. So far, they haven't "gotten in the way" of producing an abundant harvest, so for now they will not need to be moved into the outer perimeter of the yard where they are in harms way of our chi's who like to feast on the young shoots just before they bloom!
Taking seasonal pics helps me "remember" where my permanent fixtures are... chives, carnations, thyme, tulips, echinacea, arnica, bee balm, and a few others. As the season progresses, I take other pics which help me recall where I've planted things in the past year or so, so I can plan accordingly. As mentioned, crop rotation is an important aspect of sustainable organic gardening practices. Why? Well, it helps with pest control, soil balance, and management of diseases - especially soil borne ones.
ANYWAY... I like to use my excel program for mapping out my garden. I created a template with my boxes all mapped out for location and with my permanent fixtures already in place. Excel is perfect for mapping out each box with the individual squares for planting. I have a file on my harddrive full of graphics of each type of vegetable I grow, which I then insert into the individual squares for a full visual map of my garden plan for the year. I used to use graph paper and write the names of things in... but this is so much easier to move things around as I progress in the planning stages! I love, love, love it.
Each year, I make a list of what I want to grow & how much I want to harvest and I go from there. I know I can't grow my tomatoes in the same place as they grew in the past two seasons, so I start with those. They grow up a trellis and shade others nearby, so I go from there. What grows well with tomatoes and doesn't mind some shade? Same goes for my pole beans, cucs, melon and squash. Those all grow vertically and affect the plant groups around them. So, I start with those and go from there. I have a limited amount of space and a maximum of 6 hours of sun in certain coveted spots of my yard... less than that in most other areas of the yard. So, I have to make the most of my trellises and the "sunny" areas that I do have.
SPEAKING OF RHUBARB... this year, I need to move one of my rhubarb plants. One is producing well, the other one peters out after the initial harvest. It needs deeper ground and more sun than what it's getting. So... I need to find a good 3 foot square area somewhere in my perimeter beds where it can thrive - OR - give it away to someone who can appreciate it as much as we do! Hubby's Favorite Rhubarb Pie, May 1st, 2009.
Looking at this picture reminds me that I have some rhubarb left in the freezer! I think I'll have to surprise DH with a pie this afternoon. Oh my, won't that go well with a cup of tea while mulling over my garden maps?! :o) Doesn't get much better than that!