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Intensive Growing ideas?

 
            
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Not sure if this is the proper board to place this so if it isn't please forgive

What are some known ways to grow as much produce in as little area as possible? I know about this way of growing potatoes but what about other plants?

The ways I've heard of so far include:
* growing tomatoes in an "upside down" planter
* Growing potatoes as mentioned above
* Growing cucumbers/vine beans up a trellis

What about things like watermelon, corn, herbs in general, yellow squash, zucchini etc? I ask because I'd love to know of others experiences with growing produce in small spaces.
 
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
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Small mounds maximize the growing space. The bigger the plant the higher you place them on your little mounds, e.g. strawberries at the bottom, then lettuce, then tomatoes on top.
 
            
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Dunkelheit wrote:
Small mounds maximize the growing space. The bigger the plant the higher you place them on your little mounds, e.g. strawberries at the bottom, then lettuce, then tomatoes on top.


I've not heard of this one, thank you for pointing this out.
 
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
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Really? It's called "Hügelbeet" in german. A raised bed/compost pile without a frame. When you build it 40 inches broad with a shallow slope you gain 1/3 more space to crop.

- First you dig a trench.
- Then you layer woody material,
- fill the gaps with half rotten compost and kitchen scraps, to produce warmth and give plants a headstart.
- Then you cover it with turned over gras sods.
- Then wood chips + kitchen scraps and half rotten compost
- Finally you cover it all with dirt.

Make sure you have slight depression on top of the mound to let rain water soak in.

You have to water it a lot though. Timed drip irrigation is best. After 5-6 years you have rich humus to spread. Don't confuse it with sepp holzer's Hügelbeet. He uses woody material only.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I've never tried growing tomatoes upside-down and my brain refuses to imagine how a tomato would handle it, let alone thrive.
Trellis the c*p out of anything that even hints at being  twiney or tendriley.
I've got pole beans, a pumpkin that popped up and proceeded to grow skyward and a passionfruit all sharing/shoving each other up a wall.
Grow espalier fruit trees.
You can also get bush pumpkins and small, yet still o/p things like cabbages
Grow really productive, multipurpose plants. Eg: fava beans for nitrogen-fixation, dinner and carbon/biomass.
John Jeavons (now there's a man who can squeeze things in...) talks about growing in time as well as space. Sounds all philosophical, but basically means you can fit a lot of quick things like lettuce and radishes around brassicas before they get big. This kind of thing is not for those who maintain a 'proper' crop-rotation!
I've failed miserably at growing things out of the ground. Potatoes, tomatoes, pretty much anything except figs. Now there's something that actually thrives on semi-starvation, thirst and root-bind!
The main thing that gave me enough space to grow what I want is by turning my lawn into garden.
I've got about 1000 square ft to grow in I suppose. That looks big to my metric eyes, but it's a squash if you insist on growing as much as I do!
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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Utilizing layering of plant heights as seen in a food forest garden greatly increases yield on a given piece of land too. 
 
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
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You can also grow fast growing stuff between slow growing stuff. Lettuce (yeah, I'm into lettuce) between broccoli, squash, zucchini, whatever. When the broccoli grows bigger you harvest your lettuce to give the broccoli the space it needs.
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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So far we have:

Container gardening
Creating space with Mounds
Canopy Layers  (food forest gardening)
Succession gardening
And Growing plants close to one another (square foot gardening)
 
Emerson White
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
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Carefully selecting varieties.

All the commercial varieties developed in the last 50 years were developed to yield on flat ground and preferably be tractor harvestable. Heirloom varieties have a lot more diversity, but you have to search for it. If you are eating immature squash rather than fully grown squash your choice in varieties will be considerably different etc..
 
                                
Posts: 62
Location: Western Pennsylvania
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I think rotation gardening is good way to pack it in.  Growing an early spring crop in one place, then when it is done in midsummer, replacing it with a fall crop.  I put in my early peas, then by the time they are done I usually can squeeze in one more planting of bush green beans, or even fall kale or another fall plant that can follow peas.

A great book on gardening, with lists of what crop can rotate with another is

The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Ed Smith

Also, is the square foot gardening book, I prefer the older hardback edition to the new one out.  I don't use the wood or string to separate the "foot" squares, but I use the principle of bed gardening in place of row gardening.  It also has great tables on when (based on your frost dates) to plant out. 

I grow in beds, 100sq ft each (25' x 4'.  I chose that size because I know exactly how many tomato plants go in each bed, and I can easily mix and add my fertilizer ( I like Steve Solomon's recipe from his book Gardening when it Counts).  I also like the beds because I'm not walking in the garden, but in the path between.  This is the way I have done it for about 10 years and I like it.  It makes rotating crops easier too.

When I grow something on a trellis, I grow it on the edge of the bed, leaving at least 3 feet in the bed for something else, other crops, herbs, flowers etc.  Don't leave any hole bare!  Something can grow there.

.......as for corn, you are probably out of luck in a small space.  It is the smallest yield for the largest space crop, and you really need a block to pollinate properly.  I will grow some on occasion, but this year I am growing a block of sorghum for the chickens, and maybe I can make a broom or something!! 

Tami 
 
Steven Baxter
Posts: 254
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Chefmom wrote:
.......as for corn, you are probably out of luck in a small space.  It is the smallest yield for the largest space crop, and you really need a block to pollinate properly.  I will grow some on occasion, but this year I am growing a block of sorghum for the chickens, and maybe I can make a broom or something!! 

Tami 


I have never done this before, but, to save room with growing corn plant it in a spiral. It will also give better chance of pollination. Also look up the three sisters. It plants beans, squash, and corn all together. The beans help the nitrogen level in the soil for the corn. The corn gives the beans a "pole" or stalk to grow on. and the squash leaves act as a living mulch for the plot.
 
            
Posts: 177
Location: California
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Jami McBride wrote:
So far we have:

Container gardening
Creating space with Mounds
Canopy Layers  (food forest gardening)
Succession gardening
And Growing plants close to one another (square foot gardening)



Two come to mind..

Vertical gardening (training upwards and trimming to prevent bushing, as with tomatoes, cucs, etc.). I heard trellises mentioned but no name put to it.

Aquaponics, though I suppose it might fall under "container gardening".

Undersowing was mentioned but not added to the list, unless that falls under "canopy layers".
Selecting "big producers" when considering varieties has been mentioned since.
Training cornstalks into spirals around a stake has been mentioned since (this sounds awesome and I can't wait to try it).

 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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Location: zone 7
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its simple. instead of growing one crop in a bed. grow 5,10, or 20.
 
Emerson White
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
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I think you need a little more nuance than that soil.
 
George Lee
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Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
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hubert cumberdale wrote:
its simple. instead of growing one crop in a bed. grow 5,10, or 20.
agreed..closed canopy those beds,people..
 
                            
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I have been an intensive grower for many years, and when I did commercial growing, I always started almost everything in flats, having a constant supply of new plants to replace veggies that were harvested--now with the threat of radiation on our gardens, I have decided to grow as much as possible under cover.  I am currently putting my seeds into larger sized containers--onion sets, for example are going into four inch pots (three-four bulbs per unit) I save cell packs, get them at the dump, from friends, etc and recycle them year after year..
A new flat idea--the re-store in Missoula has lots of wooden drawers usually available for a couple of blocks.  Often they can be found made of plywood (don't use particle board!) They can be lined with a trash bag (3 ml) or used as is, with a few drain holes drilled in the bottom.  Save the drawer pulls--add extras on the opposite side and viola instant containers that can be moved around--The ideal size is about 4-6 inches deep, 15 inches wide by 18-20 inches.  Also use a bit more perlite for your soil mix, and lots of peat moss or coco peat if you can find it to lighten the load.

Because we are having another late, cold wet spring. these drawer flats let you garden now, you can do micro-greens, baby lettuce, onions, etc.  Also good for kale, collards, asian greens & herbs.
Even leaving these on a porch if you don't have some kind of cold frame or greenhouse is better than sowing seeds into cold raised beds, plus everything can be easily lifted out and transplanted later.
These will also work for red radishes, baby beets  baby carrots (just use the smaller type carrots, not those that form a long tap root) Baby carrot greens are delicious steamed or sauteed by the way...
 
                      
Posts: 56
Location: MONTANA, Bozeman area; ZONE 4
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BARREL TOWER

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjY3C81zSZM


You can do the same in 5 gallon buckets  with holes on side, and even stack them.

I have heard that there is a product in garden centers for growing tulips like this.  Could be used for vegs, strawberry. .
 
                      
Posts: 56
Location: MONTANA, Bozeman area; ZONE 4
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Also, Doyle's blackberry, thornless is a super-producer.

http://www.fruitsandberries.com/

 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 468
Location: Eastern Kansas
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I am alternating the big, bushy plants like bell peppers with tall, thin plants like corn. At the base of every hill of corn (2 - 3 corn plants per hill) I am planting a member of the cabbage family. I do not know if there will be enough light for a head to form for the cbbage but that is fine: I use the leaves like collards.

I plant every 3 feet: first a bell pepper, then a hill of cabbage and corn, then a pepper, and so forth.

Last year I made the mistake of planting melons instead of corn next to the peppers, because the musk melons would lie flat on the ground while the peppers stood up. This was a mistake because I could not pick the peppers without damaging the melons, and the lower peppers were hard to see because of the melon leaves. We got a bountifull harvest, but some was lost to my big feet.

This gives me wide walkways in spots. Unlike most Permies I use weed barrier, because I am handicapped and otherwise I cannot keep up my garden. I would rather not use the weed barrier: I am still working on that!
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Does anyone know how to make the holes in the sides of a plastic barrel if you are going to use it for a barrel garden?  I've got four barrels -- not sure yet that I want to use them that way, but it's a possibility.

Kathleen
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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A hole saw bit in your elect. drill is the quickest/easiest way.
 
Salkeela Bee
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
Does anyone know how to make the holes in the sides of a plastic barrel if you are going to use it for a barrel garden?  I've got four barrels -- not sure yet that I want to use them that way, but it's a possibility.

Kathleen


Or heat a skewer or metal knife using gas (ie gas cooker, stove, hob or whatever you folk on t'other side of the pond call these things) and then just melt a hole.  This is the technique I use as it saves me looking for "his" drill!
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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I've got a hole-saw bit for my drill, but how did they bend the lower edge of the hose out and the upper edge in, and make them stay that way?

Kathleen
 
Salkeela Bee
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Slits cut (or melted) and then heat applied to bend the plastic I'd guess. 

Blow torch maybe.... carefully!
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Blowtorch (carefully!  ) makes sense -- thanks. 

Kathleen
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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my favorite intensive food supply product is greens, whether they be baby greens, mescluns, lettuces, or other cooking type greens as chard, kale, etc.
If you plant a nice bed of greens you can cut them all season long cut and come again, I also planted spinach and mesclun in my greenhouse and cut it most of the winter.

I eat salads nearly every day or cooked greens ..so this is the best plant to  produce for me

I also eat wild greens like lambsquarters, and they come free, and are very good tasting and make cut and come again a real free food
 
                      
Posts: 56
Location: MONTANA, Bozeman area; ZONE 4
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MAKING SLOTS IN BARRELS

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8j4KaRhacI

Basically, use a light to heat the plastic and make it more malleable.

Put a large cone-ish wood block into the hole forcing the top part of the hole inward and the lower part outward.

 
                      
Posts: 56
Location: MONTANA, Bozeman area; ZONE 4
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MORE ON SLOTS, and EASIER

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvq7VWMyGsc&feature=related

That video shows a similar thing, but done in bags. These are hanging, but you could so the same thing in a heavy duty garbage bag, and it would be a lot easier to make the holes.

To keep the soil from falling out, if that comes to be a problem, perhaps a plastic cup with no bottom could be used in the hole.

Maybe there is a way to make a light frame for the bag would help, to give it some more form. 

Water accumulation in the bottom might be handled by small holes. 

Two bags, one inside the other, might be of benefit.
 
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