Gardening Articles

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 Cascades. 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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Next: The Raised Bed

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