Monday, November 9, 2009

Space Management

The bed that the garlic and onions are planted in this Fall held my Southern peas in the late summer and the zucchini before that. When this batch of garlic and onions comes out near the end of June, a late planting of tomatoes will go in that space. Being able to use the same space over and over throughout the year for different crops makes a small garden more productive than at first seems possible. This particular method of wringing more food out of one patch of ground is usually called succession planting.

In my yard, the garden beds that are closer to the road are more intensively managed than those farther from it because they get the most sunlight. The planting beds closer to the house become completely shaded in winter and don’t really emerge from that shade until March.

Because my year-round sunlight is so limited, careful planning is necessary to maintaining this level of production. I record on a little map (not fancy, since I am not at all artistic) every year what has been grown where, so I can avoid planting same-family plants in the same place too soon, and so I can avoid planting root vegetables, even those from different families, in the same space too soon.

When I need a new copy for next year's planning, I either photocopy a clean copy of the map or I lay a clean sheet of white paper over an old copy and trace the lines to make a new copy of the map. The text in the photo above isn't 100% clear, I know, and the top of it is missing, but the outlines of the beds are clear.

Having the 2009 map on hand will make planning the next season's plantings much easier than if I relied on memory, which, by February will have developed some blanks. Also, since I have several clean copies in reserve, it is easy to pull one out for planning, change my mind, and start over on a fresh copy.

The very first drawing of the front yard planting beds was made (years ago!) on graph paper, after carefully measuring every planting area. As a result, the beds are "to scale" and it is easy for me to figure out how much planting area is available for each crop, even though the beds aren't even close to square.


  1. We are kindred "OCD" spirits! My friends get a kick out of all my graphs and maps of the gardens and my colored pencils and graphing tools, LOL

  2. Erin, I never thought about it as being an OCD thing, but you are probably right! Glad to know I'm not alone.

    I also have records of all my utility bills for the entire almost-20 years I've lived in this house, copied into record books (one for the first ten years, one for the next, and I'll need a new book soon).

    These records do make some people laugh, but they have really helped me figure out where I could cut back and how important it is to examine those Energy-star ratings on new appliances! When we first moved here, our electric usage was close to 600kwh per non-airconditioning month. We're down to 300-320 kwh per fall/winter/spring month now.

    -Amy, NW of Atlanta


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