If the crazy weather we’ve been having has put your garden planting plans in “I am totally overwhelmed” mood, then here’s a tip. If you have things already growing in your beds from winter, and some of them are still viable – like Swiss chard (which will go all summer, as well as kale, and some other brassicus family), beets, carrots, flat leaf parsley or others, before just pulling everything to make room, go into the net and find companion plants that will be cozy friends of the ones still viable, so they can help each other. This is an excellent chart of companion plants (but by no means an end all to this quite fascinating subject). https://permaculturenews.org/…/companion-planting-informat…/ Just plant the companions next to the existing viable plants.
This is called succession planting, and it keeps your growing beds producing even when they are partially empty. I make up a mixture of fertilizing ingredients like worm castings, compost, composted manure, used coffee grounds or tea bags, manure tea- bag left-overs, Quikrete all purpose sand (crushed granite, loaded with minerals), and potting mix to fill it in. Then, rather than tilling, which I don’t do anymore, to loosen the soil, I just use my hand tool (Terra Planter – best hand tool on the market https://www.amazon.com/Yard-Butler-Planter-Pla…/…/B000DCOOY8), mix in a handful of the fertilizer soil mix, and put in a single plant or a row or a grid pattern of it – whatever the open soil area permits.
You may be waiting till your winter plants have finished the seed production process, but then you loose the production of the empty places in your beds. One precept in Permaculture is you never leave uncovered or unused garden space – so succession planting is the answer. This gives you the best yield. It also helps the plants because companion planting is meant for mutual win-win for the plants.
After planting, put some mulch around the newly planted plants to hold in the moisture and keep the soil cool, then water in the new plants. I like to use chipped- up garden waste and dried herb left-overs after processing medicinal herbs, or chipped autumn leaves, or un-sprayed wheat straw. If you have access to chicken manure with straw or wood shaving bedding, you can use this as a light top treatment, but do not dig it into the soil as it’s too hot for roots. By putting it on the top of the soil this gives it a time release fertilizer as well as being a cooling mulch for hot sun.
Today we planted in the open areas of a cucumber bed celeriac (celery root vegetable), three kinds of beets, lettuce, carrot, and soon to go in – bush beans.
Around the Swiss chard, beets from the winter, and kale will go in tomatoes, garlic, lettuce and more of the guild for tomatoes. We did manage to clear away weeds, seeded plants, and debris. Everything planted in the last few days is thriving.
We have been careful to dig in kitchen waste to compost in the soil and feed the worms. And we have put in a thin layer of chicken poo with bedding around the newly planted babies besides the fertilizing soil mixed in with the garden soil.
Today we also harvested the compost/manure tea we’ve been brewing for two weeks. It was a dense serum to which we also added mycoryzal, epsom salt, and diluted human pee (which I collect and dilute 1-9 – a permaculture technique which is very friendly to plants). The compost and chicken poo we had put in fine mesh bags and let cold infuse in rain water with a couple of cups of molasses (to feed the friendly microbes) with an air bubbler from the pet store (for fish tanks) for two weeks was done today. We removed the bags and squeezed them to get as much as we could of the good fertilizing goo. After we put the remains from the bags in a bucket to mix with other fertilizing soil matter (see above), we even soaked the bags in rain water and added that infused water to a bed of lemon balm. Nothing is wasted.
Giving planted beds the nutrients they need, and using every inch of garden space for highest yield is a key element in Permaculture Design. I hope these tips are helpful to you. Please comment if this helps you, or if you have tips of your own which would increase the benefits we mention.