Monday, February 4, 2008

Starting Afresh with Vegie Guilds

Off and on, I keep trying to plant vegetables in guilds as recommended in Linda Woodrow's The Permaculture Home Garden. At some point, I'll review this book: it is actually practicable for urban permies in the temperate zone. Just to explain briefly: a guild is a planned mixture of plants in a single garden bed, organised so that harvest occurs within three months. The advantages include lower losses from pests and diseases, and continuous harvest of a variety of vegetables. Woodrow's system forms six guilds into a sophisticated "mandala", including use of a chook dome to lower pest numbers and fertilise, weed and till the soil.

Because I'm a SHE, my guild system usually amounts to trying to avoid planting the same kinds of vegies right next to each other (apart from sweet corn, which needs to be planted in groups for pollination, and which I underplant with cucumbers). It works reasonably well, except that I sometimes find that it's time for the chook dome to go on an area before the later crops have finished. Also, I'm not too good at having something ready to fill in spaces as they arise, and that means weeds elbow their way in until the chooks get them.

Time to give it another go. With this blog providing some structure, perhaps I'll be able to manage a bit better. So here is my planting list for the first fortnight in February:

Direct (done last Saturday):
10 French beans
1m row purple carrots
1m row Florence fennel
Parsnips (not by me; I just wait to see where they come up!)
1m row dwarf snow peas (I think it's too early, really, but have given it a go)
Radishes "French Breakfast"
3 silver beet "Five Colours"
1m row Welsh onions

In punnets, for later guilds (seeds planted yesterday):
5 beetroot (mixed heirlooms)
3 broccoli "Romanesco" (which, admittedly, I've never had any luck with)
3 cabbage "Mini"
3 kale "Tuscan Black"
1m row leeks "Jaune de Poitou" (these are whopper leeks that need ages to grow)
10 lettuce, plain Cos and "Rouge d'Hiver"
10 pak choy

Oops. I should also have had a few seedlings ready to go in with the seeds, but I hadn't many -- a punnet of leeks, and some crook tomatoes -- but I popped them in too.

Later in the evening, the rain started again. It has rained all day today and everything is drenched, to the point that I now worry my freshly-planted seeds might fall prey to damping-off disease!


DrRuth said...

G'day Chookie - long time no talk. Amanda shared your blog address with me. Hey I thought you'd be amused to know that that Permaculture book which seemed interesting to me costs $126 on amazon!

Chookie said...

Ouch! That's gotta be the world's most expensive permaculture book! Lovely to hear from you again. Are you now one of the garden bloggers of Texas?