Saturday, June 4, 2016

Vegetable gardening a la John Seymour

My DIY pea and bean supports in bed 2--Not Pretty, but functional.  Chicken house in background
Though I have tried many methods of vegetable gardening over the last 13 years, none have been really outstanding, and I am always open to new ideas.  This year I'm trying out the advice of John Seymour in The Complete Book of Self Sufficiency, with slight modifications.  I have 3 main beds and a small holding bed (he also calls for a fourth main bed and a seed bed): 
  1. Roots;  in my case just onions, a few celeriac, chard and beets (my carrots are in raised planters because of carrot fly).  
  2. Peas and beans, followed by winter brassicas later in the season.  
  3. Miscellaneous hungry crops:  zuccini, tomato, cucumber, salad-y stuff.  
  4. Holding bed:  to hold the winter brassicas until the peas and beans are cleared away in late summer.  
Seymour calls for a main bed of potatoes;  as we eat a low carb diet, a bed of just potatoes doesn't work for us right now.  Instead I have a couple potato plants growing with the tomatoes in bed 3.  He also advises a seed bed, but rather than risk the slugs--of which there are many--I have planted most of my seeds in trays.
Following Seymour's system has been helpful so far, in that I know where everything is to be planted beforehand, and using the holding bed means I haven't run out of room before running out of plants (this usually happens every year).  His book has a seasonal guide of what to do, which I have mostly followed. 

I have a few things outside my main vegetable beds, too:  I have about a dozen planters of various sizes and shapes on the patio, including the above mentioned carrot planters.  Additionally, I have planted some pumpkins at the far side of the garden, first making a mound of fairly fresh chicken bedding (manure and straw) with a little potting compost to hold the plant in.  I planted pumpkins this way in the main patch last year and they took over!  If they take over this year, they won't shade out other vegetables, at least--just the fish pond.

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