Raised Bed Garden
The wonderful thing about this method is how much you can grow in a small area. Beds three or four feet wide have space enough for two rows of large plants such as corn, bush beans or peppers. Tomatoes can be spaced two and one-half to three feet apart with the rows staggered. Snap peas can be planted every four inches. High-plant population in the bed keeps weeds crowded out.
My garden is only 12 sq. ft of growing space combining the pots and planters, recently built from recycled hardwood flooring and curbside wood scraps. This year I’m beginning to chart the stages of a two year growing season, incorporating companion planting and crop rotation. On this garden journal I’ll post about how to accomplish small space organic gardening, treating even such a tiny space as an entire ecosystem. I’ll also chronicle the failures and successes of growing in space constrained places. In particular, growing in the northern 40th parallel, on the northside of a building with approximately 4 hours of direct sunlight. Most people wouldn’t even dare some of the things I have planned for these poorly lit lumps of dirt.
I’ve made attempts to grow cilantro before. Allan loves it, I like it on my tacos and it is great in black bean soups. So why have I never been able to grow it?
The First Two Failures:
I started with already growing starts the first time three years ago. They grew successfully for about a month before wilting. I was growing them next to a tomato plant, a good companion for the parsley family plants like cilantro, so that should not have been a problem.
Two years ago I directly planted the seed in the garden, in early May and never saw them come up.
Why am I having luck now?
After the recent onslaught of rain I saw how upright and happy the cilantro plants were and deduced, of everything growing in the garden now, they are the ones that’ll need the most water through the summer months. I also started these plants from seed indoors back in late February, with the same seed as Failure #2 and planted outdoors in early April. And unlike the starts in Failure #1, I made sure they have about 4 -5 inches between them and staggered spacing. The plants definitely don’t like crowding but I went by the smaller spacing recommendations of John Jevons and the Ecology Action folks in their book How to Grow More Vegetables, which is a great biointensive growing guide for space constrained gardeners.
Basic rules for success: frequent watering, start indoors and plant early in the season, right after the frost has passed.