Above you will find a diagram of the schematic for our garden. (I made it in AppleWorks and the original file has grid lines that make it easy to pinpoint exactly where each plant should be placed.) The plot is 4m x 9m. The sizes of the circles are based on the (within row) spacing suggested for each plant on its seed packet. Thus, this approximates the amount of space needed for each plant. (The zucchini and Brandywine circles are 90 cm, or about 3′.)
I’ve put a row of beets in between two rows of sweet corn since the beets are said to prefer half-sun to full sun. A row of soybeans flanking each row of corn to provide a bit of extra free N. In this diagram, north is at the top, so the sun will go across more or less from right to left. The less water-needy crops (zucchini, sweet potato, tepary beans) are bunched on the left. The onions were left behind by the previous tenant of our plot and I haven’t thought about what to put there after they’re gone. Maybe a nice French squash or some collards. Maybe both.
I’m planting 10 corn and 10 soybean side by side every week or so and planting the beets in three batches about 3 weeks apart. Tomatoes and chiles were started inside at the end of March and are likely to go in the ground this wkd. Maybe I’ll wait another week on the chiles, which are coming along slower. I’ve got sweet potato slips that I sprouted from a couple sweet potatoes that I bought at Carrefour. (I think they came from Israel — certainly not from France.) Those will prolly be ready to put in the ground in a week or two. Okra and basil prolly last to go in. With any luck I won’t have the fire ant problems in my okra that I always had in Georgia.
I’m starting my corn under plastic water-bottles with the bottoms cut off to give them extra heat and humidity until they’re big enough to deal with the real world (i.e. until the weather is unequivocally warm). So far, so good. I need to keep saving bottles so I can do the same for the soybeans, if only to protect the young sprouts from slugs. Will prolly start everything else that is directly sown this way, but I’m still collecting bottles. Two-liter coke bottles would be even better but we don’t drink much coke.
I’m also sowing most seeds in the middle of cut sections (~8-10 cm) of water-bottle embedded in the ground. This keeps the water close to the seed(ling) and away from weed seeds. Also forces the water to sink straight down instead of spreading at the surface, which should encourage the roots to go deep and prevent lodging. Also reduces the amount of water needed by focusing it around the plant. I’ll prolly take these out once the plants are established, if it’s not too much of a pain in the ass.
My main worry is that I’m not allowing enough space and the plants will be too crowded in. We’ll see. The bottom line for me, tho, is that with a small (36 m^2) vegetable garden, there’s no reason to do anything as haphazard as sow willy-nilly in rows and then thin. The space is small enough to by precise and therefore to fill every cranny while pampering the plants and taking precautions vs. weeds & herbivores. We’ll see.
The first batch of corn is already starting to push at the tops of their mini-greenhouses, altho the beets are taking their sweet time. Soybeans are also a tad slow. Looking forward to putting the tomatoes and chiles in the ground this wkd.