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By Alan on Jan 28 in Blog tagged at home, Bush, containers, dennis, dwarf, espalier, fruit, garden plot, gardening, in small places, intercroping, mobile, ornamental, Relay, seeds, square foot, Succession, trees, vertical | 1 Comment
When I was growing up in small town Utah in the late 40′s through the 60s, most families had large lots. My parents and grandparents had large gardens that I was often tasked with weeding. It wasn’t a problem growing crops that needed a lot of space. Corn, summer and winter squash, pumpkins and melons need quite a bit of space when grown horizontally. Most, with the exception of corn, can be grown vertically.
Now a large lot is usually 1/2 acre which includes the space taken up by the home, driveways, walks, etc. Most of us live on lots that are 1/3 acre or smaller. In the case of an apartment there is usually no green space at all. We are seeing more neighborhood or community garden plots.
When we lived in Germany we noticed that they had taken this to an art form with gartenplatz (garden plots) where most are rented. They are even covered by their federal laws.
The [German] Federal Garden Plot Law. From Section 3:
(1) A garden plot should not be larger than 400 square meters [4300 square feet]. During use and cultivation of the garden plot, all requirements relating to protection of the environment, the local habitat, and the landscape shall be taken into account.
(2) In the garden plot, it is permitted to construct a simply-furnished small house with a maximum of 24 square meters [258 square feet] of floor space, including any covered outdoor seating area. Sections 29 to 36 of the Building Code apply accordingly. The house’s overall design, and especially its furnishings and equipment, may not be suited to long-term residence.
The result are thousands of garden colonies on the outskirts of big cities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland that look more like miniature housing developments than peaceful nature retreats. In the summertime, they are packed with families enjoying the sunshine, crammed onto their tiny plots grilling, eating and relaxing.
Since most of us want to stay at home to do our gardening, I will talk about several ways that we can do this. One of the first things that I would have you do is look for a location that has adequate sunlight and preferably near a source of water. Look on the Internet for ideas and then plan out your garden space. Here are some ideas to think about:
2. Vertical gardening: This can be incorporated into your horizontal gardens. It is a great way to maximize your space as well as minimize rot, mold and some insects with your
plants being off the ground. I use steel electrical conduit for the frame. There are right angle connectors that allow you to make a 3 sided rigid frame from items easily purchased at any local hardware store. Nylon netting is then stretched across the conduit and secured with plastic tie-downs. This can then be secured to your boxes, if you use raised beds, or by hammering rebar (also found at hardware stores: many of them sell precut short pieces) into the ground and then sliding the open end of the 2 vertical supports over these. There are many vegetable that can be grown vertically. Peas, pole beans, summer and winter squash, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe, cucumbers, pumpkins, etc. I have used this technique for several years. Some of these will need additional support once the fruit develops, such as cantaloupe. Trellises are another vertical technique. They have been used for centuries for grapes. Winter squash and cucumbers, gourds, melons, berries and even pumpkins can also be adapted to trellises. I have used a trellis for some of my grapes vines for years and last year I made one for my winter squash. I am going to change it this year so that it is anchored on the far sides of my raised beds instead of the inside. This made it easier to get to the plants in the raised beds.
3. Place vegetable among your ornamental plants. I have done this with peppers. There are now ornamental peppers that are edible. Herbs also work well in this setting. I have chives in my flower beds.
4. Containers: Any container: from glass jars, fabric grow bags, upside down bags, old nursery black plastic plant containers to the fanciest of pots can be used for growing vegetables. Some have water reservoirs in the bottom to minimize the watering requirements. I have my dwarf orange and lemon trees in 2 of these. There are specific ones for strawberries. This technique can be used in the house, on the deck or on the side of the house. There are now specific tomato varieties for the upside down containers.
5. Intercropping: Planting crops that mature early with crops that mature later in the year.
6. Relay Planting: Planting some plants one week and then planting the same variety a week or two later in different spots so that the production time will be prolonged.
7. Succession Planting: Once a crop, such as radishes are finished producing, planting another crop that does well in the hotter months.
8. Plant dwarf or bush varieties of vegetables and fruit trees. I use this technique grow my fruit trees closer together.
9. Espalier (i-spal-yey or -yer): This is for growing vines or trees in a 2 dimensional plane. Grape vines have been trained this way for millennium. Many fruit trees can also be trained to grow in this way. Apple, apricot, nectarine, peach and plum are among the fruit trees that you can espalier. This was used by George Washington at Mount Vernon and in gardens in Colonial Williamsburg. I have done this with 2 plum trees and plan to do it with some apples varieties. I use the dwarf or semi-dwarf varieties, but it can be done with standard sizes.
10. Mobile Garden: When you think that you have seen it all, you haven’t !!!
“Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end [garden produce] should greatly increase.” Job 8:7
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