Cricket Song Farm

Cricket Song Farm

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Block Planting/Intensive Gardening

I generally plant in long 4 foot wide intensely planted rows, leaving a 1 foot path in between the rows. This width allows me to reach from both sides of the row to weed and harvest the vegetables.   Suggestions of vegetables to plant this way are:  radishes, carrots, beets, bush beans, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and lettuce.  Here are a few examples of intensive or block planting.

In this 4 wide raised row/block, I planted cabbage on the north side, lettuce down the middle and winter radishes on the south.  The lettuce will be cut 4 or 5 times as the other plants grow.

Here is what the row/block looks like now. 
The lettuce has been harvested many times and will now be pulled
 and laid on the row, as a mulch, between the radishes and cabbage.

Peppers are planted in a 2,1,2  pattern. Or if your rows are wider plant in a 3,2,3 pattern.  This method works great for single crops of broccoli, cauliflower, eggplants, etc,  I have also found this method helps promote better pollination.

I have been harvesting 20-30 peppers PER plant every week the past several weeks.

The intensive bed method is watered by hand spraying or overhead sprinklers. 
Water early morning to prevent water loss through evaporation, this also allows the plant leaves to dry out preventing mold and mildew problems.

carrots, beets, lettuce, radishes spinach, etc. do well planted
 about 1 foot apart in raised 4 foot rows

All the above pictures are from my garden in Roosevelt

At the Farm I plant in larger blocks, usually 4 or 5 rows of vegetables
early spring planting

This small 40' by 80' area of one of the gardens is divided into several raised 6 foot wide by 20-30 feet long blocks.  I have planted a mixture of plants.  Early maturing spinach, greens and radishes followed by  (when it's warm enough to plant) warm season crops interspersed in the blocks in a 4,3,4 pattern.  As the spinach, greens etc. mature they help keep weeds at bay and also shade the ground conserving moisture.  They will be cut several times.  When the hot summer weather comes, the cool season greens and radishes are pulled out leaving plenty of room for the long season crops to mature.

block planting of  (left) cilantro (middle) red sails lettuce (right) mesclum mixed greens
further to the right (not pictured) are separate blocks of each beet;  golden, red, chioggia,, and bulls blood

 There are still many crops that do best with regular row cropping and watering.  I prefer to water tomatoes, squash, potatoes, corn, cucumbers,etc. in rows.  If you are lucky enough  to have irrigation water row cropping is very beneficial.  The plants won't need watering as often and they develop a strong, deep root system which brings more nutrients up from the soil into your food.  I use the same principal however as the intensive gardening.  For instance; in a row that has tomatoes, the tomatoes are planted 3 feet apart at the top of the row with the roots near the bottom of the row and the stalk laid underground about 6-8 inches.  In between the plants, head lettuce or carrots are planted up about the middle of the row.  Radishes are planted close to the bottom of the row (will be harvested quickly) and basil is planted high in between the tomato plants.  The tomatoes will be staked  leaving plenty of room for the crops underneath to grow.  I have found that summer squash and beets or chard planted this way do very well also.  What has your experiences been with intensive gardening?  Please share your info in the comment section.

A photograph taken 15 years ago

This section of the garden is a mixture of row cropping and block planting.  On the right are tomatoes in rows, cucumbers grown in large black pipes for additional warmth and then staked.  At the back in the middle the old crops have been tilled under making way for blocks of fall greens and radishes.  The plants on the left are all grown in the intensive block plantings.

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