A Systems Approach
Gardening (and all agriculture, really) can be classified into one of two types: Intensive and Extensive.
Extensive gardening is characterized by a large area with relatively low investment per square foot (or acre). Most farming is extensive.
- It covers a large area
- Plants are spaced far apart enough so they don’t have to compete for the limited nutrients and water
- The focus is on the area of crops rather than on the individual plant
Intensive gardening is characterized by a smaller area with relatively high investment per square foot.
- The space is utilized to its capacity by dense planting
- Improving the soil so that it will support that denser planting
- Scheduling planting to produce the maximum yield
Our discussions here at the Southern Agrarian will all be focused on Intensive gardening. This approach calls for a systematic plan to get the greatest yield out of a small area. There are three major parts of this system:
We use a Raised Bed Garden to grow our vegetables. This is where the major investment of time and material has been made, and it is the limiting factor. The other parts of the system serve to make this part as efficient as possible.
The period of time from when a seed is first planted until it is ready to transplant is a very inefficient way to use the garden space. Our objective is to push productive plants through the garden as quickly as possible. Instead of planting seeds directly in the garden, we plant them in soil blocks so that each plant takes up only a 2″ x 2″ space rather than the growing space required by a mature plant. A transplant area 4′ x 6′ will hold approximately 600 seedlings in the standard 10″ x 20″ greenhouse trays.
While fresh vegetables are clearly the favorite from the garden, getting the highest yield often means that we don’t keep plants even though they may still be producing. Once they are past their prime, they are replaced with new plants. The vegetables that we cannot eat fresh are pressure canned for use throughout the year.