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small garden ideas

 
Jacques Nault
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Hi, I live in central Canada and this year I have access to a 30' x 9' garden. It was previously used as a conventionaly grown veggie garden.
I've been learning some things about permaculture but there's so much to learn. I could really use more direction/suggestions.
The garden is running north south with some shade at south end. Theres access to it from lawn on west side & a fence along the east & north sides.
For my first year should i just keep it flat or create beds or mounds? I would like to grow a variety of veggies & herbs/flowers.
Would it be a good idea to prep it with a load of topsoil or such with perhaps cardboard/newspaper underneath?
How important is companion planting?
Thanks for any suggestions & directions you may have.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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For growing the most vegetables in the least space I recommend Biointensive gardening: http://www.growbiointensive.org/
 
Jacques Nault
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Tyler Ludens wrote:For growing the most vegetables in the least space I recommend Biointensive gardening: http://www.growbiointensive.org/


Thanks Tyler!
It seems like a lot more work doing it that way and everything i've seen so far about permaculture leans towards no digging yet with Biointensive they suggest to dig up to 2 ft deep!
Also to start the seeds going in seperate trays before then putting each individual seedling in the garden bed all measured precisely.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Bio intensive is...intense. But it absolutely rules for production per square foot. Mel Bartholomew square foot gardening is a little less intense, uses more outside inputs, and still produces a lot of food. Less intensive methods work fine, just not going to feed a family from their own backyard as easily. But if you just want a few nutrient dense crops it is a lot less time invested to get there.

Raised beds or mounds help with poorly draining or cold soils. Compost, mulch, lasagna beds, whatever you can get your hands on to improve fertility.
 
Andy Moffatt
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Location: New Zealand
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I think just go buy some seeds, lots of different seeds and plant them. See what grows and learn as you go.
Don't get too hung up on different methods just start and see where you end up.
 
Marco Banks
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Have you read Toby Hemenway's "gaia's garden"? It's a great one-volume introduction to permaculture gardening. He writes about garden design, companion planting, keyhole beds, herb spirals . . . a bunch of things that you might find helpful on your small plot.

But in the end, a garden is a garden is a garden. Get your compost pile going and start collecting as much organic matter as you can. Mulch like you've never mulched before. Plant the tall stuff on the north side and the shorter stuff on the south.

Enjoy.
 
Casie Becker
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Something that a new gardener might not think of, is to look for local seed companies. The closer to your climate the seeds were developed in, the more likely they are to thrive with minimal effort on your part.

As far as companion planting, I think it is very beneficial. Companion plants can support a lot of functions in your garden. One of the biggest ones for me is drawing in vast quantities of beneficial insects who pollinate my vegetables and feed on most of my pests. Most culinary herbs make fantastic companion plants. If you're working to keep living roots in the soil, many of them are also reliable perennials.

The shape of your garden beds should be dictated by your conditions. Raised beds dry faster which is great in a rainy climate and horrible in a desert. My area has frequent flooding and long droughts. I use a mix of raised and flat beds. That's actually not a bad way to start. Make a few raised beds for your first seasons and compare results to level beds before investing a lot of energy building beds across all your property.

If you have a healthy food web in your soil, you won't need to dig in amendments. Organic materials layered on top of the soil will be incorporated by the soil life. This is actually a big part of why a lot of people advocate no till. However, there are very successful examples of people who prefer (for varied reasons) to till each season and aren't destroying their lands, so it may be a matter of personal preference or individual conditions. In my case having a thick cover on the soil is so vital that I prefer to apply my amendments first as a mulch.
 
Jacques Nault
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Thanks everyone! Yes, i know i have to just start with something & learn as i go & I can always change things later or next year etc.
I just got the book "Gaia's Garden" and will be reading it.
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
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Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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I'm with Andy, just start with some seeds of a bunch of different things. toss them all out there and see what happens, or get some starts from a LOCAL nursery, not Home Depot or any place that brings plants from large commercial growers, with no sense of appropriate to climate, just selling what sells everywhere else. (except "Bonnies" they are good starts, and they're Canadian, I think). Just plant things you would eat if they grew that are right for your time and place. See what happens.

This first year just take it as an adventure. Start with curiosity in you heart rather than expectations of perfection.

Some things to get started in your gardening space if you expect to be there for a few years: strawberries, chives, parsley.

To try to do intensive or biodynamic or any other precise system would be like buying a grand piano, and trying to start out with a mozart or chopin.

 
Erica Daly
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The edge of my yard has a hillside against a drive that goes to neighbors. It has not been useful to me and is steep. The trees in my yard hold the soil in place and I have been afraid to dig at all there. I started adding rocks to hold soil and planting beans and spreading any seeds from the 'weeds'. I am sure it is mostly rocky underneath, but is my new 'guerilla' garden.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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