-By Mireille Bourgeois
I made my first gardening plan. Yes, I did spend a whole weekend designing this in InDesign and yes I did digitally draw all these little vegetable icons myself. I told you I was obsessed. I realize it looks like a lot of food, but I’ve planted this many seedlings and they’ll have to go somewhere! I’ve chosen vegetables that I use a lot in my cooking, that are easy to freeze, and some that I find expensive in grocery stores. Those were my basic criteria. The first image is a comprehensive plan for our entire backyard. It’s relatively to scale. I won’t lie, I’m looking for advice, and even if it’s just a little “you’re crazy!!” comment.
I’ve been reading about vegetable planting combinations, where one type of vegetable is helped by having another grow in the nearby soil. I’m not sure why this is, but I’ve designed my garden with it in mind. I have to admit, I’m so afraid of failing, that I’m trying everything I can to maximize the success of this garden. Like everything I do, it’s full force.
Below you’ll see that I chose to put leeks and green onions with carrots and lettuce, good combinations. I’ve lined the bed with flowering coriander and sage; the strong scent of the herbs will hopefully deter the pests. Wasps are good predators for other smaller pests, the flowers will also attract bees which is great for pollination and vegetable growth. I’ve put bean poles in a separate planter because I hear those can get out of hand so I’d like to have easy access, and they will also act as a wind shield; vegetables apparently do not like strong wind. I live in Nova Scotia by the sea, therefore a wind shield is helpful for these growing veggies. Spinach and beans are also complimentary growing partners.
Here, tomatoes, basil and peppers are great growing partners (and great in cooking too!), and I’ve placed some marigolds and parsley which help with attracting the good bugs and deterring the bad ones. I’ve use sunflowers and mexican daisies as the wind shield for this corner because they are beautiful and provide varied pollinating possibilities for bees which is important for healthy and productive bee species.
The left side of the garden is a much more narrow path. I’ve chosen to keep the squash there with the cucumbers because they will take over the whole planter easily, and require similar tending. I can hang a trellis against the metal fence for the cucumbers to grow up a little. Marigolds, squash and cucumbers are great growing buddies and the flowers will hopefully keep some of the pests at bay too. I read that it’s good to put the strong smelling herbs and flowers on the edge of your bed, to build a sort of forcefield for the vegetables. …and more bean poles and spinach as a wind shield.
Lastly, I wanted to have a place for my beets but they do require a lot of space in between to grow. I planted some garlic on the edge of my metal fence last December that is already sprouting out of the ground in April, and since garlic is a complimentary planting partner to beets, I will raise my garlic bed a bit and plant my beets there. If anyone has advice on whether this would work or not, since my garlic is already planted, or even on if it’s necessary to have a raise bed for beets, I’d love to know!
Well, I leave you with this for now. I just had a “weeding” night with my seedlings last night. No, not actually weeding, but I had to throw out a bunch of overgrown seeds since I overplanted. Who needs six squash seedlings indoors!!!! SIX. I just heard this week that one seedling can yield like a dozen squashes. I had NO idea. It was a little sad that I waisted these seeds, but I’m happy that the indoor gardening seems more in control. I’m really fascinated by this process. For someone who loves food so much and respects the living cycle so much, I find it flabbergasting that I had no idea what some of these veggies even look like when growing in a garden. Now if Halifax would JUST get some decent weather for me to put my plant into action.