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Deep mulch one row growing system  RSS feed

 
Aljaz Plankl
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After seeing the video, I wrote to them with these questions (waiting for response now):

I'm wondering what are the reasons for having single rows of vegetables three feet apart?
Ease of mulching?
Machinery?
Any other reason i'm not aware of?
Are rows alternating and on different spot each year, in other words are you turning deep mulch paths into crop rows each year?
Is single row used for most of veggies you grow?


What do you think?

 
Dale Hodgins
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It's a seed  garden.  I suspected they are growing things in separate rows in order to keep everything true to variety. They grow their own hay,  which is harvested before anything goes to seed.

It's not how I would do it but they have a bigger, better garden than me.
 
Aljaz Plankl
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Single row grow system

I was never a fan of rows, but we are moving into more production, bigger field crop no-till system and i think it's going to be single rows.
I was questioning this method, more in a way of - why not use standard beds?
This article is quite good on answering me the question why one row system - http://www.cropsreview.com/row-planting.html
We are still growing big veggie garden with standard double reach beds, and one row system is going to be a good addition for growing crops such as corn, bush beans, potateos etc.
Can't wait, especially because it's going to be no-till and we are already preparing the ground with old hay and leaves.


As far as the no-till system on a above video, i got the answer from Theresa.

It's a food production system.
Main reasons for such wide paths is ease of mulching and ease of movement between rows.
It's easier to move and maintain the system when plants are fully grown.
Also minimizing shade and competition and ease of harvesting.

They don't alternate between paths and rows and they are having some problems because of that and are thinking to alternate them next year because soil in paths is just great.
Year to year they didn't alternate and growing rows are lower - sort of sunken in as compared to the mulched pathway - disadvantage in heavy rain, rows get saturated and sometimes too wet.

Most row are single rows, but sometimes single rows are planted in double row pattern (carrots, oninons, beets,...)

Me thinks
We are probably going for single row systems, but i'm almost sure i will not use three feet for the paths, maybe only one, one and a half foot.

Any inputs from other permies?



 
Zach Muller
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Do you plan on using any machines? If you are not using any machines than making a single row doesn't seem as important, although 1 - 1.5 ft seems like an absolute minimum for The width of any path in my experience. Probably too small if you grow any big plants at all.
 
Peter Ellis
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There are so many ways of gardening, and many of them produce pretty good results. Personally, I look at a straight row system as shown above, with more space mulched for walkways than is planted and productive and I think "why waste all that space, and why not use the benefits of polyculture?"

For now, I plant double reach beds with paths just about wide enough to take my wheelbarrow through. Mostly the wheelbarrow does not need to go through those paths when plants are growing, so I don't worry about not having enough room to get by when the beds are full of plants

Beds get a variety of plants, I try for both temporal succession and companion plantings, so for example peas might go in early, and then while they are off and running I might add tomato transplants and basil into that same bed with the peas. Peas are done by the time the tomatoes are getting big enough to compete and the basil is happy growing among the tomatoes, plus the peas put a bit of nitrogen in the soil. With a polyculture approach you, hopefully, reduce pest and disease problems compared to a straight monocrop row planting.

My thoughts are definitely influenced by Michael Pilarski's approach. He is looking for all the photosynthesis he can get out of an area. To really do it Skeeter's way you need an encyclopedic knowledge of plants in order to recognize what is what in the crowded jungle of green and I am nowhere close to being there. Even so, I find the idea, and his overall approach, very appealing.

Regimented rows, with nothing growing in easily half the garden, are just not my thing.
 
Aljaz Plankl
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Hey Peter and Zach.

To clarify, I have a polyculture, companion, succession, no-till veggie garden already established here on a farm - see it here - http://permies.com/forums/posts/list/80/29091#286499

We are now adding bigger and simplified crop field system and looking for "the best" way.
Less plant varieties, more quantity is general idea.

No machinery.
Mostly plants that don't need everyday care or harvesting, so mostly plants that are harvested for storage in large quantity, it's zone 3 on a farm.

Rows will be designed with keyline pattern, so they will not be straight lines popped onto landscape, but will go in harmony with it.

Alternating rows with different veggies will take care of polyculture aspect.

Well, the roots do grow in path areas, especially if they are deep mulched.
Actually this is the question right now for me, how wide should i make the beds and paths?
Probably best to decide what i will grow and where and make variable dimensions?
 
Dale Hodgins
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I think if you are trapping most of the light that falls on the garden, then row width doesn't matter. In a field situation, labor is the factor that makes or breaks it. I have 4 acres of land that is flat enough for crops. I'm only gardening a small portion of that, due to labor constraints. So, effectively over 90% of my light and rainfall are wasted. Any system that would make use of this land more labor efficient, would be an improvement. The market garden portion of farms is usually vastly more productive in terms of cash value than are hay, cereals etc. Any system that makes money while preserving and improving the soil, is a good system in my book.
 
Aljaz Plankl
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Some more interesting thoughts on beds versus rows.

Established gardens
Vegetable gardens with beds system in zone1 take all fine mulch we can produce. By fine mulch i mean compost, and other fine grade broken down materials. It is very easy to maintain garden beds with this kind of mulch, easy to spread any time of year, if needed also inbetween growing plants. Gardens are producing very good, we are not greedy, but we need a bit more of some type of veggies for our consumption. Gardens in zone 1 and maintenance are staying with us, but new growing areas are in preparation for next year.

Why rows?
Applying coarse mulch as easy as possible!
For new growing areas (zone 3) there will not be enough fine mulch and main source of covering material will be hay or long partly dried grass in summer and leaves in fall. Single rows are very convenient for this kind of maintenance, that's my main idea right now.
Using rough mulch such as hay and leaves is time consuming and very hard to do on garden beds when plants are growing, especially close spacing ones. Also mulching beds in fall is a challenge for sowing and planting in spring if system of beds is used.
Imagine you got this crop and it's growing on 1.2m beds. Soil gets bare because mulch is eaten, and it's time to mulch again. The only material you have is long fresh grass or hay. So hard to mulch beds versus mulching paths and single rows, because you only mulch paths and it is easy to apply. By mulching paths you actually also mulch each side of a planted row, that's what i really like.
In my case i think i will not go wider than 0.4m for paths.


Mulch and ground preparation
Ground will be prepared now as a whole using rotten hay and leaves for mulch. I can decide in spring where and how big the paths and for what veggies to use single rows, double rows or beds.

For mulch, nothing else is available, and also in future there will be only hay, fresh grass and leaves for this growing area.
I am thinking to compost the material available, just need to figure out how much i can dedicate to composting as i need to prepare the ground now with what i have available and by the summer this mulch will be gone and bare soil will start to show.

Growing mulch on site will be done and it's very important aspect. Cover crops will be key stone to this.

Small is good!
I should remember this, when i decide on dimensions for new plot. Better to use thicker mulch on less area, than thinner on bigger. Done this mistake so many times now, it's funny! I hope it's not going to happen this time. It is also important that you have enough mulch to sustain good cover which is important for many things - soil health, weeds, water are the main ones.
 
Peter Ellis
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Mulch is not the only form of ground cover. Get enough growing in the space and it gives you the benefits of mulch without the effort and the added benefit of yields from the plants.
Many ways of going about it
 
R Scott
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I am like Dale in that time is more of a limit than land. But I also have a shortage of mulch, so spreading it out too far doesn't make sense either.

The market gardener really goes over efficiency of motion and the importance of streamlining daily tasks over optimizing once a year tasks. Those extra fifty steps a day add up.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I have to agree with Peter Ellis, many ways to accomplish a given goal.

I save seed for future plantings and for a seed bank. This factor defines the layout of the gardens since the seed needs to be species specific and true to variety.

I plant in blocks, not rows, blocks allow me to cover more space with food plants and still keep enough distance between species to keep the seed true to variety.

I plant several different beans but they have to be far enough apart to ensure they remain true to variety, I also plant these at different times so they are not flowering at the same time (mostly) which also helps ensure each stays TTV.

I have friends that keep their paths year to year, they do this so that is the only compacted area in their bed arrangement, I consider that as their choice, I don't do it, I move things around in the gardens and even from one garden to another to keep down disease and pests. I also move the paths every year or every two years. When I do this, the paths become the beds and the beds become the paths. I do a lot of mound plantings and these are mostly for the wide spreaders like squash, melons, etc. By doing this, I don't have to worry about having wide path spaces in the other gardens, mine tend to be 2 ft. or so wide.

I use the three sisters method of planting everything, this way I get the most production from each species and type and several different crops can occupy a single garden space. Even the Orchards have food crops planted amongst the trees. The grapes, blackberries, scuppernongs and Muscadines (all vines) have their own spaces, which are rows because of their nature and need to be trellised.

In the end it is the grower who has to determine the best layout and methods to use for their own needs.
 
Permaculture isn't that hard to understand. Sometimes a little bump helps: richsoil.com/cards
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