My main goal beyond building soil quality is to be self-sufficient. Therefore I am going to focus on growing the staples in my diet and filling out the rest of the garden with vegetables that I enjoy. Maybe I will produce excess to sell but I am not planning on it in the first year. I would like to build an aquaponics system to further stretch waste products, have some fish protein on the menu and further promote soil fertility. Additionally, red wigler worms will be an integral part of composting and will provide winter protein for chickens as well as fish if the aquaponics plans are realized.
In terms of staples, sweet potatoes make up most of my carbohydrate intake so they will be the largest portion of my garden. According to the study “Effect of intercropping varieties of sweet potato and
okra in an ultisol of southeastern Nigeria”, Okra and sweet potato planted together potentially increases yields of both plants. I’m not much of an Okra eater, but they pickle well for preservation so I’m willing to give them a shot. I am going to space each plant out 18″ from its nearest neighbor of the same species which means each plant will alternate every 9 inches. Low vines of the sweet potatoes will act as a living mulch for the erect-growing okra.
Granted, 45 specimens of each plant shown below is more that I need. I will build the garden to its full extent as composting on the farm yields new soil. The plant locations were determined by the same “Construct Points” that I used in mapping fence posts.
Sweet Potato/Okra Symbiotic Planting
Next on my list is to get a perennial asparagus bed started. Asparagus will get the fresh veggies going early and are freezable post-harvest. For now I am planning to plant it on the rows closest to the barn where it can be left undisturbed year after year. Basil seems to drive away common pests of asparagus and also is an all around good companion plant in the garden. If basil attracts slugs or snails, I can capture them in a beer trap to give the chickens a treat!
Asparagus/Basil Symbiotic Planting
Thats it for tonight! Any recommendations for the rest of the garden?
Note: When beginning construction of the garden beds, I switched my plan by siting the beds parallel to the west boundary of the garden rather than the east. When I was on location It was easier to determine the best way to work with the gentle hill. I will update the maps soon!