There comes a time for every gardener when the numbers just don’t seem to add up the way they should.
I’ve been reviewing the list of vegetables I’m planning to grow in my vegetable garden, all 492 square feet of it, and am not sure that if you figure out about how much space each crop needs that it will come out to 492 square feet or less.
In fact, I’m pretty sure it will come out to be more than that. So, I’m going to have to do some ciphering, figuring, planning, and squashing to get it all to fit.
Speaking of squashing, I was surprised to find out that I had purchased five varieties of summer squash to plant. So far, I have plans to sow seeds for:
‘Cocozelle’: It’s an heirloom variety!
‘Lolita’: They described this one as ‘very refined’. I’m all about refinement.
‘Cue Ball’: I first grew these round balls of squash two summers ago. They are the first to produce and are very prolific.
‘Eight Ball’: This is a dark green round squash, a good companion for ‘Cue Ball’ which is light green.
‘Horn of Plenty’: I have to have a yellow squash, to go with the green squash.
I bought all of these from Pinetree Garden Seeds. They included the best size for picking in the descriptions and not a one of these is best at any size which is close to “big”. Remember that, everyone, pick the squash when it is small and it will taste better. Those big clubs of zucchini are signs of a gardener not paying attention. Shameful!
Now, if each hill of squash takes about three sq. ft, and I plant just one hill of each variety, that’s only 15 sq. ft in squash plants. But, I like to plant two hills of each, just in case, so that’s 30 sq. ft., which would be one of the 4’ x 8’ raised beds. But I’ve never tried to get ten hills of squash in one bed. I think the most was eight hills and that was a little crowded, so six hills in one bed is better. So now I’m thinking it will take one and a half 4’ x 8’ raised beds just for the squash.
And I haven’t even figured out the space for the corn, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, and peppers and the early spring crops, and the flowers, including giant sunflowers. And did I mention that in my 492 sq. ft, there’s one 4’ x 8’ bed that is all strawberries, and one 4’ x 4’ bed that I thought should have a small apple tree in the center of it, so that takes out 48 sq. ft. right off the bat.
You can see how the numbers aren’t adding up like they should. Some special planting tricks will be needed to make my garden act bigger than it is:
– Plant close to the edges of the raised beds. Let some of the plants hang out over the sides. My raised beds are only about six inches deep, so I figure roots that hit the side will just grow down and find more good soil to branch out into, under the paths. Yes, that soil might be a bit more compacted, but in my garden, it isn’t that compacted right next to the beds. It may also make walking around the garden a bit of a challenge, and you may have to leave the wheelbarrow off to the side, but for more vegetables, try it.
– Use the corners of the beds. I sometimes plant something that grows more upright in the corners of a bed of squash, like peppers or eggplant.
– Plant vegetables in the flower beds and borders. In other words, designate more space for vegetables. Some gardeners plant their vegetables in amongst the flowers not because they ran out of room in the vegetable garden, but just because that’s what they do. Vegetables are plants, too. Peppers would provide a nice green backdrop. Carrots with their fern-like foliage would look good around the flowers, too.
– Interplant some of the vegetables. Most gardeners have heard of the Three Sisters garden, where corn, pole beans, and squash are interplanted. It’s a little tricky to time the beans so that the corn is tall enough for them to climb up when they are ready to climb, but it can be done.
– Plant vertically if you can, it uses up less ground space. Okay, now I realize that it might have been better to buy seeds for vining cucumbers so I could grow them up instead of out like bush cucumbers. But I already have the bush cucumber seeds, ‘Homemade Pickles’ and ‘Spacemaster’.
Hey, do you know what this means? It means that I have room for some vertical crops. I could grow gourds, spaghetti squash, maybe even a vining cucumber variety or two in that vertical space, which will now seem neglected if I don’t.
I knew I needed more seeds!
Does anyone else have any tips for making a vegetable garden
er bigger than it really is?