My Own Garden Plan

This chapter illustrates and explains my own dry garden. Any garden
plan is a product of compromises and preferences; mine is not
intended to become yours. But, all modesty aside, this plan results
from 20 continuous years of serious vegetable gardening and some
small degree of regional wisdom.
My wife and I are what I dub "vegetablitarians." Not vegetarians, or
lacto-ovo vegetarians because we're not ideologues and eat meat on
rare, usually festive occasions in other peoples' houses. But over
80 percent of our calories are from vegetable, fruit, or cereal
sources and the remaining percentage is from fats or dairy foods.
The purpose of my garden is to provide at least half the actual
calories we eat year-round; most of the rest comes from home-baked
bread made with freshly ground whole grains. I put at least one very
large bowl of salad on the table every day, winter and summer. I
keep us in potatoes nine months a year and produce a year's supply
of onions or leeks. To break the dietary monotony of November to
April, I grow as wide an assortment of winter vegetables as possible
and put most produce departments to shame from June through
September, when the summer vegies are "on."
The garden plan may seem unusually large, but in accordance with
Solomon's First Law of Abundance, there's a great deal of
intentional waste. My garden produces two to three times the amount
of food needed during the year so moochers, poachers, guests, adult
daughters accompanied by partners, husbands, and children, mistakes,
poor yields, and failures of individual vegetables are
inconsequential. Besides, gardening is fun.
My garden is laid out in 125-foot-long rows and one equally long
raised bed. Each row grows only one or two types of vegetables. The
central focus of my water-wise garden is its irrigation system. Two
lines of low-angle sprinklers, only 4 feet apart, straddle an
intensively irrigated raised bed running down the center of the
garden. The sprinklers I use are Naans, a unique Israeli design that
emits very little water and throws at a very low angle (available
from TSC and some garden centers). Their maximum reach is about 18
feet; each sprinkler is about 12 feet from its neighbor. On the
garden plan, the sprinklers are indicated by a circle surrounding an
"X." Readers unfamiliar with sprinkler system design are advised to
study the irrigation chapter in Growing Vegetables West of the
On the far left side of the garden plan is a graphic representation
of the uneven application of water put down by this sprinkler
system. The 4-foot-wide raised bed gets lots of water, uniformly
distributed. Farther away, the amount applied decreases rapidly.
About half as much irrigation lands only 6 feet from the edge of the
raised bed as on the bed itself. Beyond that the amount tapers off
to insignificance. During summer's heat the farthest 6 feet is
barely moistened on top, but no water effectively penetrates the dry
surface. Crops are positioned according to their need for or ability
to benefit from supplementation. For convenient description I've
numbered those rows.

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