Vertical gardening aids
I've just come from yet another look at the photos of Chandra's amazing garden.
As I just told him, I'm particularly impressed with his use of vertical supports to pack maximum use into a confined area. We've talked a bit about tomato supports on some of the other threads, but I wonder if we can devote on thread to just that sort of thing.
I know you'll laugh about this, but one of the things that has dumbfounded me since I began a veggie garden is simply the way that things grow in Oklahoma. And grow, and grow some more. I've never seen anything like it.
No matter how much room I allow for the plants, they promptly fill it up and keep right on going way past the edges of their assigned spots. For some reason, the thought of a French Intensive plan flashed through my brain as I was mapping out the garden this spring. I'm certainly glad I didn't use it, because I got it anyway. The garden is so dense that I can't even get in to reach the produce. I was so sure I had left plenty of space. Not! Good heavens. Clearly I need to revamp my plan and take a page from Chandra's book, to make the same amount of space more manageable.
This year we did put up T-posts and a cattle panel to support a shade for the tomatoes. This is also something new for me. I've never had to do that before. We have some more panels on hand and will be making a lot more adjustments for next year. I think I want to arrange for more shade and see if I can find some commercial shade cloth that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I also want to train all of our vining crops on vertical supports. The way they are sprawled out now is just insane.
I'm not young enough to take on some of the big projects I used to do. I simply don't have the strength or energy I used to have, so my garden needs to use a design and materials that are durable and easily maintained. I don't think any wooden supports would be practical for me, given the conditions I have to work with. That particularly involves the clay soil and layer of hardpan that's less than 12" under it in a lot of places. T-posts are the only answer.
For those of you who have put in permanent structures (Diane, that amazing TomatoHenge is an example) how will you manage crop rotation?
Can some of you offer up your ideas, or examples of what you've done with gardening up instead of out? Can we talk about what has worked and what has not? Siting for wind resistance (or lack of it) and sun exposure? Materials and designs that have worked well, or even ones that have failed.
I have a lot of old chicken pens on this place we took on, and they are all corrugated metal and chicken wire. Clearly, what I had planned for their use is not going to work out at all because of the damage to the soil. I'm just glad I found that out before I did a lot of work with them. I had wanted to turn at least part of the gigantic barn into a greenhouse, but it's simply too daunting a task. However, I'm beginning to get some ideas of how some of the pens can be made to work for me. For instance, an old row of them that's completely enclosed so the sheep, chickens, and wildlife cannot reach anything inside (unless they are really determined to tunnel under), with shade from well-started elms, a southern exposure and protection on the north, and water available within only a few feet. Why not build potting benches in there and put those horrid old things to work?? The soil is useless, but the pens themselves are not. (At least, not as long as they are strong enough to deter my muscular sheep.)
This has turned into a much longer ramble that I had originally intended. I had better post it and see if we can start a discussion.