The conventional gardening, typical for rural environments, is based on the principle of planting by rows. When it comes to every day, more popular, urban gardening, this principle fails to deliver the wanted results. A completely new way of gardening comes into the picture now, and it is called intensive gardening. It is perfect for small spaces and urban environments since it offers the opportunity of growing more food in less space. Read on, if you want to learn more about the gardening method that will change your life.
Square-foot and Biointensive Gardening
These are the two most popular intensive gardening methods developed in the second half of 20th century. The Square-foot gardening prescribes a simple practice of raised beds of only 6 inches deep, filled with an artificial mix of compost, peat moss, and vermiculite. Biointensive system, on the other hand, develops fertile soil in permanent garden beds (depth of 2 feet). The primary goal is growing food naturally, with only a few inputs from outside.
The Principles of Intensive Gardening
The two mentioned approaches are based on four common principles:
- Establishing permanent garden beds.
- Relying on compost.
- Taking advantage of the entire surface of each bed (high-density mixed planting).
- Maximizing the growing season by quickly replanting the gaps left after harvesting plants (quick succession planting).
Adapt Your Garden to Local Conditions
Whether you decide for one of the two intensive gardening systems mentioned earlier, or you customize both of them to create a unique combination that suits you the best, you will have to keep in mind the local conditions which can greatly impact the growth of plants. Pay attention to climate, weather, soil, composting materials, water availability, pests, and diseases, so you could find the most practical solution.
Use and Improve the Soil You Already Have
Bartholomew’s system relies on making your own soil instead of taking advantage of what you already have. Still, every soil can be turned into decent and gardening-friendly one in just a few seasons, if you are regularly adding organic amendments, so be generous with compost and water (depending on the specific plants’ needs).
Protect Your Plants
One would think that gardening requires much labor, but it doesn’t have to be so if you find the appropriate practical solutions for everyday tasks. When your garden is attacked by annoying pests or persistent weeds, you don’t have to get down and weed. If you are using a garden sprayer, you can solve these two problems easily. Nowadays there are plenty of non-toxic components used to produce these sprayers, so you don’t have to worry about compromising on your plants’ health and quality. Another neat way to minimize the weed is to cover the soil with mulch. This will also help soil maintain as much moisture as growing plants need.
Make Your Own Compost
Not only healthy and useful, but also a cheap way to make your garden flourish is to use homemade compost. This is actually very simple to make – just take some organic ingredients, such as eggshells, table scraps, fruit and vegetable scraps, leaves, tea leaves, etc., put them into a bin and leave to sit for a few weeks, giving it a quick turn from time to time. An even simpler way is to just leave some organic material to decompose in the soil.
Simplicity Is the Ultimate Intensive Gardening Principle
The bewildering number of gardening myths and rules bombarding us from pretentious books and magazines (e.g. companion planting charts) is exactly what keeps most people away from gardening. It is about time to realize that gardening is not so complicated. The initial research about the soil and climate is, of course, a must and it is useful to keep basic gardening records about the time of planting, the plants, harvest dates, and pests or other problems.
With time, you will be able to feel your garden’s “heartbeat” and know what needs to be done and when. Intensive gardening is supposed to be creative and individualistic, so enjoy it.