I am starting a vegetable bed at a my new home. Can you double check my work to see if I'm making a newbie mistake?
I have seedling starts that are doing well. I know about hardening them off. I'll transplant and direct sow other plants after my last frost date. I've read up on amending my local soil (North Carolina clay). I'll have soil test results in about 2 weeks. This won't be a raised bed but the (sunny) area is slightly higher in elevation than neighboring portions of my yard, so I think this will assist in clay's drainage issue in addition to my amendments.
I've mapped out the beds with sticks and string, and I aimed for curvy paths with internal forks and keyholes (I'll have to post pictures later). I did this because I heard it can confuse pests relative to straight rows. Also I'm thinking it will create variation/ecological niches so I can learn my plants' preferences. Hopefully it will limit deer and rabbit access too. I'm planning to place taller plants on the north side. I'll be doing a three sisters guild and some variations where I switch corn for amaranth or sunflowers. Bushy plants (bush beans, peppers) will be on the south/periphery. Do you know if interplanting beans with peppers is a good idea (for nitrogen fixation)? I have a packet of rhizobium in occupant. I will plant some dynamic accumulators and beneficial insect attractors.
Incidentally are there deer/rabbit-repellent plants I could place on the periphery?
Here's what I'm most unsure about. I'm planning for dense interplanting. I have an idea that's a spinoff of sheet-mulching and square foot gardening (but I've been unable to find anyone else who's tried this). I am planning to make 12"x12" cardboard planting templates. I'll cut holes large enough to accommodate final stem size. I'll place the templates on top of the amended soil and wet them, and secure them somehow. I'll plant the right seeds in the right holes at the right depth. I'll then mulch with straw so the cardboard can have some sunblock, and so i don't freak out the neighbors. So it's sort of surface sheet mulching. Theoretically it will keep the weeds at bay for my sown seeds and keep the soil moist. Do you see any problem with this? I'll mulch the paths as well.
Thanks in advance for your help and insights. I'll post some pictures when I'm able.
hau, Jesse, It sounds to me like you have a well thought out plan of attack, some thoughts that may be of use after you are set up;
daikon raddish used as a sacrificial crop will help loosen your clay soil and it will add humus as the roots decay after you chop the tops.
To repel deer, Tall fencing is the only sure fire (most of the time) method, but here is a list of some plants that deer don't like the smell of;
Keep in mind that you would need a fairly wide (4-6 feet) border of these plants to actually deter deer from getting into your gardens.
Even then, if the deer are hungry enough, they will get to your garden.
The way we keep the deer out of our gardens and orchards; We have a 4 foot fence all around the perimeter of these areas, our dogs roam through out these areas.
So far, the deer don't seem to want to come in where there is canine odor, it also doesn't hurt that they bark when the deer come by, leaving quickly once the barking starts.
I have a friend that has tried electric fencing and white fabric blowing in the wind, neither actually worked for him.
There are Smelly things you can use but if you have neighbors, they will most likely not like the odors coming from your land, you might not like them either.
Thanks for your response Bryant.
My grandfather used to put human hair in stockings and hang them around his farm to keep the deer at bay. I'll try that if I can get enough hair! I do have 4 foot high fences enclosing my back yard, but the deer seem to jump at least one of the fences. I'm planning on addressing that by installing trellises along the fence and running a vining plant up them.
I do have some bee balm seeds and sage seedlings, so I'll give that a try.
Since my post I have also read that deer don't like wormwood, so I might give that a try too at some point.
Our G&F Rep. told me that deer do not like to jump if they can't see where they will land. He also said that if the barrier is just fence, then it needs to be at least 7 feet tall. This is not something we want to install, the cost would be just to much, and we are not wanting to keep them away, just out of certain areas.
Our Rep. surveyed our land and then designed areas for food plots and bedding space, these will have the effect of giving the deer what they need and perhaps deter them from getting into our gardens, orchards and vineyard. I am also following his advice on the types of ground cover crops I am planting everywhere, this also serves at least three purposes, keeps the soil covered, builds the soil nutritionally, gives grazing areas for deer, rabbits, turkey and all the other critters. It also holds lots of bugs which the free range chickens and guineas love. The guineas are supposed to be good for tick control. I sure hope this works since the ticks have increased at least ten fold because of the mild winter.
I will get some wormwood planted, seems like the best idea is to have a wide border with as many deer offensive plants in it as possible.