I want to grow more vegetables and the most direct way to accomplish that is by adding more soil space. Problem is, there's no flat ground where I can add more beds that also gets adequate sunshine. I'm adding space a number of ways.
There’s one new bed about 16 feet long that was built into the slope toward the pond last fall (new bed on slope). This area was scraped of all topsoil when the pond was built and barely supports any vegetative growth. The bed is backstopped on the low side with 2 x 4’s attached to stakes and a yard of compost/soil mix was put into it last year. I’ll plant this bed with winter squash. This picture shows the meager vegetative cover in front of the new bed.
I’m going to plant sweet potatoes in boxes. The boxes are actually two of the more decomposed modules from the compost bin. They will be set in the same area as the new bed shown above. The sweet potatoes will be free to vine over the barren ground, but the planter itself will be filled with compost amended soil to give them plenty of nutrients. I'll have to make some more modules for the compost bin, these lasted five years.
Then there’s the potato box that I showed in an earlier post. This will be an experiment. Most of the potatoes will be planted in a raised bed.
I’m going to build some self-watering containers. There's one Earthbox that I bought years ago and planted with tomatoes when I lived in the city. Right now it's in the mobile greenhouse with some nice looking lettuce growing in it. After the lettuce is picked I'll plant it in celery, which has never grown in the raised beds. I plan to build three more SWC’s and will plant two of them with okra – Millionaire (Johnny’s) and Red Burgundy. Both are compact types. I also plan to put brussells sprouts in a SWC.
The plan for the existing beds has much in common with the plan for 2009 which was the first year that the garden took the shape it has now. As Yogi Berra once said, it’s déjà vu all over again. I try to rotate the plant families so they get the maximum lag time before returning to the same bed. The solanacae (tomatoes/peppers/eggplant), brassicas, squash and greens bed match with the 2009 plan. The beds in the schematic are not positioned as shown, they have been arranged so they can all fit on the page. They are drawn to scale. The top left bed is 4' x 12'.
Changes this year: Snap peas. The last three years Memorial Day has ushered in a heat wave with 90 degree temperatures. That’s a death sentence for the peas and their production ends soon after it begins. If that’s the way the climate is going to be most every year now I’ll have to decide whether the peas are worth it. I’ll plant a few if there’s enough trellis space.
Parsnips: I usually grow about 25 square feet of parsnips. Last year the moles or gophers found them and ruined most of them. The subterranean critters damaged the potatoes somewhat but really went for the parsnips. So this year I’m going to cut back and just grow a few rows. They may be a sacrifice to keep the rodents out of the potatoes.