This is my 4th year with this particular garden. I think I figured out the best way of planting and maintaining last year so I shall pass on my (limited) words of wisdom.
I rotate my 'crops' each year and the following is this years configuration.
My garden is 26 feet wide by 34 feet long. (8 meters by 10.5 meters), divided into two 12 foot halves with a 2 foot path going down the middle.
On the left side, planted at 4 foot intervals, starting at the front:
3 rows of sweetcorn, 2 varieties
1 row of 3 cucumber plants
2 rows of 3 each pickling cucumber plants
3 rows of green beans: flat Italian, golden, 2 kinds of regular green; all pole beans for longer harvest and less space than bush. Bush beans are good if you plan on freezing of canning.
In between the first 2 rows of corn are 2 butternut squash plants
In between the second 2 rows of corn are 3 acorn squash plants
In between the corn and the cucumber is a row of dill
In between the cucumber and the 1st row of pickles is another row of dill
In between the two rows of pickles is a row of radishes
In between the last row of pickles and the beans is a row of Romaine lettuce
In between the first 2 rows of beans is another row of mixed Romaine – red, variegated, etc
In between the last 2 rows of beans are 3 hills of 3 melon plants each
At the far end is a final row of leaf lettuce.
On the right side:
3 rows of sweetcorn, 2 varieties
1 row of 3 hills of 3 melon plants each
1 row of 3 zucchini (courgette) plants, 1 gold, 2 green
4 rows of tomatoes: Roma, yellow, big round slicers, medium size all purpose, small yellow and red cherry; 22 plants total (excessive, I know but we eat a LOT of tomatoes)
In between the first 2 rows of corn are 2 pumpkin plants
In between the second 2 rows of corn are 2 acorn squash plants
In between the corn and the melon is a row of radishes
In between the melon and the zucchini a row of baby Romaine
In between the zucchini and the first row of tomatoes is a row of radishes
In between the first and second rows of tomatoes is leaf lettuce
In between the second and third row of tomatoes row of spinach
In between the third and fourth row of tomatoes is a row of radishes
At the far end is a final row of radishes
Now for the reasoning behind the planting scheme:
I put big, leafy things like pumpkin, squashes and melons with the beans and corn. They don't mind a bit of dappled shade and they keep the weeds down and the ground moist for their taller neighbors. I put the tall skinny dill in with the cucumbers for the same reason. This system give the tall plants the air space they need and the low plants the ground space they need. You must learn to walk carefully by the end of summer, but it's worth it.
I plant the lettuces and radishes anywhere they fit as they will be long gone before they have a chance to get in the way.
This method of gardening gets a lot of vegetables in a much smaller space than a typical garden, which means less to maintain. My garden is weed-free but I never weed and I don't use chemicals. I hoe. Hoeing prevents weeds from starting and keeps the soil aerated. But you have to hoe every week. If you wait until it needs it, you're too late.
It takes me about 90 minutes to hoe my garden each week, less as the plants get larger. By late-August It doesn't really matter any more so I quit completely. I spend another 1 – 1 1/2 hours per week: in early summer tending the tomatoes and young plants, in mid-late summer harvesting. Total time for my garden is about 3 hours per week plus watering during dry spells. I water twice weekly if there is no rain.
There is also about 10 hours in early spring getting it ready and doing the actual planting and 2 hours doing fall clean-up).
The only plants I buy are tomatoes. I direct seed everything else right into the ground.
As to the yield: I don't buy any vegetables or lettuce, other than carrots, celery, peppers, onions and garlic from mid-May through October. I tried growing those 5 and the yield wasn't sufficient for the effort.
I make about 35 3/4 Litre size jars of dill pickles. (We can't get dill pickles here and we both love them.) I make them as I pick: 3 – 4 jars every 3 – 4 days.
Everything else gets frozen:
8 – 10 containers zucchini soup base (1 per first course soup)
15 baggies of shredded zucchini (1 per meal)
52 cups peeled, chopped tomatoes in various size containers (I haven't bought tomato products in 3 years) By freezing the tomato stuff I don't have to add salt or lemon – Just pure tomato goodness!
40 cups pureed tomatoes (sauce) in various size containers
8 bags of oven dried tomatoes
20 cups pumpkin puree (bread, soup, pies)
I also freeze lots of herbs from the herb garden.
Almost everything is frozen in zip-loc freezer bags, the top half folded under and laid flat until frozen.
And we eat lots and lots of all kinds of salads all summer long!
And there you have it – the potager according to Katie!