Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
getables into this area. You can get more food for the same work, or less work for the same
food, just as you choose. Zoning can be that simple and that effective.
This need not mean losing the decorative value of the garden. Many vegetables are or-
namental, such as runner beans, ruby chard, 'Salad Bowl' lettuce, ornamental kales, and
most of the herbs; and many flowers, such as nasturtiums and marigolds, are edible. Also,
flowers and vegetables benefit from being grown together. Not only is there a general ad-
vantage in creating maximum diversity, but there are some specific connections that are
especially useful. For example, some kinds of marigolds (Tagetes) help to control the eel-
worms that prey on tomatoes and can deter weeds such as bindweed and ground elder with
the chemicals they release into the soil.
The layout is just as important to creating a beautiful food garden as the choice of plants.
This is the principle behind the French potager style of garden where vegetables are ar-
ranged in a design which is as pleasing to the eye as to the stomach. Indeed, a well-designed
vegetable/flower bed can yield as much food as the same area down to pure vegetables and
be as beautiful as a pure flower bed. By accepting more than one output from the land, we
double the yield.
Along with the idea of zones goes that of 'sectors'. This is a matter of placing things
in relation to influences coming from beyond the garden fence. Some of these are climatic
factors, such as sunshine, winds and frost. Others are more human-oriented, such as a good
view or the likes and dislikes of neighbours.
The climatic factors give rise to microclimates within the garden. These are areas which
have their own distinctive conditions of temperature, moisture, wind and sunlight. The
amount of light reaching different parts of the garden can be particularly important in de-
termining which plant will grow where. Temperature can also vary considerably from one
part of the garden to another. Sunlight affects this, but so does the heat storage capacity
of walls and other massive structures. A south-facing wall gives a choice microclimate for
tender plants.
Wind can be important both in exposed gardens and in urban ones, where the wind
builds up speed funnelling through the gap between one house and the next. Careful siting
of the appropriate plants or structures is needed, and a wind-break can have a multiple
function if it is composed of fruiting species. Damsons, nuts and gooseberries are all fairly
Before planting trees or doing any other work of a permanent nature, it is a really good
idea to spend a year getting to know a garden, finding out exactly where the light and
shade fall in different seasons, where the windy and sheltered spots are, and where the
frost lingers in the spring. Trees last a lifetime and more. A year's careful observation and
thought followed by harmonious planting is much better than a rush to get the plants into
the ground followed by a lifetime's regrets.
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