Rural Vegetable Garden
Design with (some allowance for) Bambi and Bullwinkle in Mind
This vaguely is related to Vegetable garden design help.
The garden sort of envisaged here, would be big enough
to allow for crop rotations. Which by itself probably makes it too big for urban applications. It might work for a community
There are a few generic principles with keeping "wild" animals out of gardens:
1. Things with a strong odour are not liked. If you eat something with a strong odour, you will probably develop a pronounced scent (bad breath or something else). Which makes it much easier for predators to track you down. Perhaps this extends to things heavy on sulfur compounds and flatulence?
2. Things that hurt to eat them. Thorns, spines, stinging hairs. Short needled conifers hurt more than long needled conifers.
3. Things that are sticky. Latex sap is a common element here, but there are probably sticky things without latex.
n. Probably other things I haven't clued into.
This musing comes from studying too much about deer
, and heading that way on companion planting.
Rosemary is a good thing to serve as an outer perimeter for a garden, except that it might be perhaps not tall enough. An animal coming up to a barbed wire fence
, can see what is on the other side. And barbed wire doesn't do much to stop smells either. Rosemary should
have an odour. But, it may be too short to block the vision. A dwarf hemlock (conifer) might be a good approximation to rosemary, and probably tall enough to block vision. Does it have enough odour? Dwarf hemlock, so that your garden isn't casting too much shade.
If you need more odour, if you pick juvenile cones from conifers, they will over time exude resin. That is the collected cones will ooze resin. There are other things you can do with this collected resin, but putting it on cloths at the perimeter should make your perimeter more odourous. If rosemary will grow as a perennial
, perhaps coplant the hemlock with rosemary.
For design purposes where I live, one assumes that a mule deer can jump significantly more than a 10 foot barrier. There are places where deer incidents have happened in the interior of BC; where the most likely way for a deer to get there meant going over a 14 foot tall barrier. Deer can get underneath a 1 foot board/mesh. It is not likely that you want to jump over your hedge, so having a gate somewhere makes sense. It probably should be located in a corner.
I suggest you don't pick the corner closest to your house. Inevitably, some animal will get into the garden, possibly even bambi or bullwinkle. I am not saying your garden needs a fence
, but it does need a gap in the hedge so you can enter, and that needs to be a gate. It should be a corner where it is easy to "shoo" an animal out of your garden to escape. Since this location isn't closest to your house, you may spot the animal before getting to the gate. The gate should be designed such that it is easy to have it fully open for when you shoo the animal out. It should be a dense vertical array of boards. The gate and posts should be physically strong.
Most gardens don't want grass. Supposedly a perimeter of comfrey (Bocking ...) will prevent "external" grass from going past the comfrey. Do you put the comfrey outside of the rosemary/hemlock, or inside?
Next up, an invasive plant; in most locales. You could put it in many pots. You could drive sheets of corrugated metal, thick enough plastic, or fibreglass/epoxy wrapped plywood or ... into the ground to an adequate depth. Or, you could make a "moat" which is closed on the side and bottom. Anyway, a planting of mint adds another strong scent on the perimeter of your garden. On a related note, if you are growing things where pollen drift is a problem, a moat approach where one grows a dense hedge of bamboo would probably work. But I believe you need to give bamboo 2 foot deep of soil, so it is a bigger moat. I don't know if bamboo would grow here. You can get saskatoon bushes with very upright and compact habit; a dense row of saskatoons should work. Some people
call saskatoons, serviceberries.
Lots of gardens make use of "trap" plants; plants that attract pests
so that the pests don't bother the plants you are trying to grow for yourself.
It may be that putting a trap in one or more corners, or in the centre makes sense. It may depend on prevailing winds. Having something like dwarf hemlock as the hedge surrounding the garden gives you some protection from wind within the garden.
Gardens often need pollinators. Are pollinators confused by a dense hedge? I suspect not, but perhaps. If so, you might need to plant flowers outside the hedge. But you probably want things which attract pollinators inside the hedge. Inside of the traps (if on the outside corner(s))? Having a water
source inside the garden for pollinators might be nice
. If you want to help solitary bees
, having one or more habitats (wood
with various size holes in it from 1/8 to 3/8 inch) on the outside of the east side of the garden would probably be a good thing.
If a plant "repels" something that is harmful to the garden, it needs to be treated differently
than something which attracts something beneficial to the garden. The something in both circumstances is probably an insect; but may in general be considered an "animal".
Attraction is sort of like gravity, you just need to get them to the "planet".
To attract honeybees, one plant which honeybees really like is all that is needed to get their attention. Once in the garden, they will find lots of other things to visit. Murphy's Law states that if you only have a single plant of that species/variety; the first time Bambi comes to your garden that particular plants will get predated by Bambi. If you have more than one plant of that species/variety but they are all in one close area; Murphy's Law says enough deer will get into the garden so that all of those plants will get predated by Bambi.
Repelling something is like electrostatics. Each plant that is repelling to some "animal", has to be close to the plant it is protecting. It is behaving like a point source or repulsion. And one would sort of expect that at a distance that was twice as far away, it would probably be less than half as effective. Maybe not the 1/4 as effective of inverse square law, but easily somewhere between 1/2 and 1/4. If you have a line of plants that could be attacked, and a line of plants that can repel close by; they will be more effective than just a single plant protecting a single plant. If we could plant a "cover crop" which repelled "animals" from harvest crops also planted where the cover crop was; then we might expect to see uniform repulsion . If the space was 10'x10' in area, the repulsion should probably cover something like 30x30 to a height of 10'. So the line of repulsion would be somewhere between the single plant and the repulsive cover crop.
Most of the "articles" I've seen on the Internet about companion planting are just that, articles. They are written by one or more humans probably with a word processor, and written such that they are intended to be read by humans. And inevitably there are spelling mistakes. But what is worse, there are logic mistakes and complexity mistakes.
A common term in companion planting is to talk about "likes". And some descriptions talk about if PlantA has these neighbours, that is a good thing. Those neighbours are helping PlantA in some way. Other descriptions are written that PlantA helps this list of other plants. This is the converse of the first situation. There are circumstances where PlantA helps PlantB, and PlantB helps PlantA. That is mutual helping, and is a good thing. I have run into a situation that two different companions have to be present together, in order to help PlantA. Surely other complexities arise?
Companion planting assumes all the plants are planted in the same soil. And there is the same fertility everywhere. And there is the same moisture everywhere. And there is the same light/heat input everywhere.
At the end of the day, a garden can be much more complicated than most people would be willing to consider. I think
that if you look first to companion plants where the help is mutual (they can help each other), and then look to situations where the companions help the plants you want to harvest; you will get a lot of the way down the path.
Not everything you want to harvest in the garden has the same height of plant. Tall plants can shade out short plants. I suspect for most circumstances, the walkways are wide enough that between the spring and fall equinoxes there probably isn't much shading. I am thinking of trying to grow persimmon as a "tomato tree", and a 50 foot tall tree does introduce some shading issues. For me, get the persimmon out of the garden. I suspect for my garden; the shade on the west side will be significantly taller than from the south or east.
In the past, people dug a trench to plant potatoes, sweet potatoes, or ... in. If the trench has zero slope, it is a swale
. Just a really small one. So, we could dig shallow trenches between rows of seeds in the garden; swales. We now can incorporate a little more water into our garden. But for people who till gardens, I suspect such trenches are a waste, and possibly better served by cover crops. But if they are possibly useful and you have comfrey growing in the garden, maybe putting the comfrey leaves in the trenches is the thing to do?
I hope this gets some brain cells fired up, and thinking about things. And maybe tell Gord he is dumb because ....
I am not a farmer, and I didn't grow up on a farm. And contrary to popular opinion, not all engineers think they know everything. They may think that all problems of a technical nature are solvable. Having autism, I know that few problems of a human nature are solvable by me.