Planning and Designing your garden can be a lot of fun. I find it's a
way to help get through those winter months as well. There are also
several practical reasons for mapping out your garden in advance. It
makes seed ordering more efficient because you know exactly what
you need instead of guessing. It aids in remembering what was
planted where so that you can make certain to do rotation planting
(This is important to minimize garden pest problems and to switch
plants using different nutrients from the soil). Also, the plan makes
a good old point of reference for future gardens. I make notes on my
plan of what went right, what went wrong.
One key part of planning is to factor in the height of the plants. You
want to grow them from the smallest in the garden front, medium in
middle and tallest in the back. This approach will maximize your sun
exposure and air/wind flow. Hot pepper plants and most others love
plenty of sunshine and fresh air. Another key issue with planning and
designing is to determine the maturity dates of different plants that
you would want to cook and eat together. For example one of my
favorite dishes is "Spicy Zucchini and Potatoes a-la-Pepper Joe"
(Recipe to follow). So I want the Zucchini, Hot Peppers, Potatoes,
Tomatoes and Bell Peppers maturing approximately at the same
Certain plants thrive alongside of each other and make excellent
companion plants so this can be part of your plans also. Hot pepper
plants do well alongside of Eggplant, Tomato, Okra, Swiss Chard,
Escarole, Squash and cucumbers. They are all heavy feeders so give
them plenty of fertilizer. I Mulch my hot pepper plants with grass
clippings after they've taken hold in the garden to supply a constant
source of nutrition as well as give them fish emulsion every two
weeks. I also spray them with an epsom salt solution every two
weeks. Our gardens are 100% organic so obviously I want natural
fertilizers. Chile plants also like Herbs as neighboring plants plus
you get the added benefit that herbs deter many garden bugs. The only
problem that I have with my pepper plants is from aphids early in the
season. The ants bring the aphids up the plants and then they "milk
them" for the sweet sap that the aphids extract from the tender
leaves. To deter the ants I plant Peppermint nearby. The few aphids
that show up can be knocked off of the plant with a sprayer and
water. I also plant Parsley, Basil, Oregano and Rosemary near my
Hot Pepper Plants.
A HI-TECH APPROACH:
Designing a garden can be a blast especially on a computer. Forget
the expensive softwear. Just pay attention to the math with the
spacing requirements between plants and rows and measure your
gardens length by width. A picture is worth a thousand words so here
we go with a very simple garden plan:
You can plant the herbs in the garden corners and at the very front
easy access. This is a very basic Illustration but it can serve as a
rough guideline. Don't forget, smaller plants up front.
Now here's that recipe.
-2 Large Potatoes, skin left on
-4 cloves garlic
-3 Hot Peppers (or vary to your heat level)
-Salt and Pepper
Cut all vegetables into 1" chunks and put into pot with 1/2" of water.
Dice and add onions and garlic. Slice hot peppers and add. Chop
Basil and add. Salt and pepper to your taste. Cook until tender. Bon
Well Good luck with your garden designing and planning and have fun
with it. Until next time...