I thought it might be of interest for others doing intensive growing methods to see how I laid out my growing space for 2013. Although the typical Grow Biointensive layout will be 4 foot wide, 25 feet long beds, with 2 feet wide paths, because of my limited space (14×26) I decided to really “pack it in” and go more intensive.
Here’s my design. The tiny squares that say FM, TM, or 花 are where I’m putting flowers that attract beneficial insects.
Here are a few of the design considerations I looked at going in:
- use as much of the soil as possible for growing, while leaving enough room to weed and harvest
- leave space for a compost pile (or two), compost storage, tool storage, amendment storage
- have the shorter crops in the front sun-facing side, so they don’t get shaded
- group crop families together to make crop rotation in future years that much more straightforward
- allow access to the lateral paths from several points along the base
Here’s what I’ve learned so far about this layout:
- the “stepping stones” to the paths quickly get overgrown by ambitious leaves. so these stones were only relevant for about a month until the plants were established in a particular section and then grow like crazy. I think they are fine to leave in for the larger spaced crops, for convenience, but next year I don’t think I’ll sacrifice valuable soil space in tight spacings such as for parsnips.
- it’s important to consider the timing around transplanting when laying out what goes where. It’s tricky to transplant into a narrow space that has recently transplanting–seedlings on both sides. Furthermore if there are mature plants on one side, they can shade out the fresh transplants.
- timing of harvest should be considered as well, and grouped nearby if possible. In particular if you are growing something that takes a long time, like Burdock, consider where it’d be convenient to have something planted out for 8 months.
- for the leafy crops like Kale and Rutabaga, they will readily invade their neighbors. I don’t mind if they are evenly matched and it’s a fair fight, but I’m having to stake some of them just to hold back the leaves from invading the space of young neighbors trying to grow.
- I was worried about being able to reach across the bed to weed the top row of crops, but it turned out OK. I can stand on the board next to the fence and get to the weeds. It’s not convenient, but it’ll do in a pinch.
- the wood for the paths (cheap wood bought at home depot) warps fairly easily. also it takes effort to grade the soil underneath to get the wood to lay flat. it’s more or less working.
- the wood for the paths needs to be secured in place with stakes on 4 points, or it’ll dance around as you step on it.
- the 18″ “lily pads” I put in are just the right size for sitting in the midst of grains and weeding, or just hanging out.