This is a good time to stop what you are doing and assess what you have going on. I don’t know about you but right now I have far more seedlings in my greenhouse than I have space for in the garden. It is so tempting so sow just a few more seeds – they are so small that a few extra won’t hurt – not to mention the spares and backups sown as a guarantee you won’t miss out.
If you haven’t done so before – now is a good time to make a planting plan. By this stage in the season, it should be safe to assume your garden is on the way to being sorted out for the season, where it is becoming weed free, enrichments have been or are being added and the location is set in a good place where it won’t be shaded out by trees, fences or buildings and will give the garden the 6 – 8 hours of sun most summer crops need.
So, the focus is now on where all the plants will go. There are several things to consider – firstly just how big is your garden? Grab a piece of paper – grid paper is handy or find an app online, and draw out your garden to scale.
Then look at everything you have currently or soon to be in seed trays or seedlings you hope to purchase soon. Take the time to find out how much space each plant will take up when it full sized. A tiny seedling can easily distort the perception of how much space each will need. Plants given the space they need will always do better than those who have to compete for space, light, root space and nutrients.
The other thing to think about is how big would you like the harvest to be. The Yates Garden Guide has a great table in it that suggests how many plants you would need from each veggie to feed a family of four.
Armed with this information you can work out how many plants you need but also how many plants will fit into your garden.
Then it is a matter of fitting it all in. But even then, it isn’t quite straight forward as just plonking them in. It requires a bit of strategy like a game of Tetris.
The things to consider when planning the garden:
· Tall crops should go at the back, so they don’t shade out the other plants.
· Corn needs to be planted in blocks not rows as they are wind pollinated. 3 x 4 will give you a good outcome.
· Sprawling plants need space to sprawl so they don’t overtake other crops. By putting them on the edge of the garden you can allow them to go off away from the garden. You can direct the young supple tips with landscape staples to point them in the direction you want them to go.
· Consider growing sprawling plants vertically as a space saver. Pumpkins, melons, and cucumbers will cling on well with their tendrils – zucchini don’t naturally climb so will need to be tied in place regularly. This would also make them tall plants so make sure they won’t shade out other plants.
· Plants that need regular access like peas and beans – the more you pick the more you get, should be placed somewhere you can easily get to, so you don’t have difficultly reaching them. A steppingstone or two can help with access without standing on other plants.
· One off crops like beetroot, who really don’t need a lot of attention until they are ready for harvest can be planted in the least accessible parts of your veggie patch.
· As hard as it is, leave room for succession planting.
It may help you cut out little squares of paper to represent your veggies and shuffle them about on your grid paper until you are happy with the layout. Then make a hard copy, write the date on in and save it for when it comes time to plant the garden out. And stick to the plan, no matter how tempting it is to squeeze in a little something else.
It is certainly worth taking the time to do this – and maybe… just maybe it may be worth your while to post a blog about it in the next couple of weeks…. But you didn’t hear that from me! Shhh!
I hope this helps and makes sense.
Once again, I’m not biased – honestly, but this week my favourite must have in the garden is Yates Seaweed Tonic. It isn’t a plant food but more of a pick me up for stressed plants who have been recently transplanted or experienced other stressful plant situations. I wouldn’t be without it – especially at this time of year.
Happy gardening and as always – if you want to get in touch leave a comment below.
Sarah the Gardener : o)
Sorry this one was a bit long….