Experiments in Efficiency (part 2)

Previously I wrote about my efforts to be more efficient in my garden. I am learning a lot!

Potatoes and other companions

So, as far as efficiency in planting just potatoes, I wanted to use as much room as I could. I planted in a zig-zag pattern in the 2′ of the 4′ in the bed, as you can see below. As the potatoes sprouted, I pulled the soil over the vines. This left the space to plant a companion in the other half of the bed. You can see that in the picture below when we planted at the end of February. I planted blue and red fingerling seed potatoes I purchased from Sow True. (As  side note, this is one of my favorite pictures of my youngest daughters in pink. I was taking multiple pictures and she kept begging to see them, but I kept telling her to wait wait wait… well, you can tell by the look on her face, she was not happy with waiting!)


Below are some dark red Norland seed potatoes planted at the beginning of April. I got these from Johnny’s Seeds. I also used my new electric tiller to prep the beds, it worked fantastic!


Back to companion planting: For bush beans, I am going to run into the same “encroachment” problem I have with the eggplant. These are my youngest beans, and seem to have enough space right now. My efficiency strategy is to try to get two rows of beans, which is probably pushing it. We will see. If I find there are issues, I will just plan to plant just one row next year.

For the potatoes, I have tried moving the stakes back into the potatoes a bit and it seems to be working. But I also know those potato vines will get larger, too. I may be able to tie twine progressively higher to rein them in.


Here are some more mature Cherokee wax bush beans (on left) planted with potatoes. I planted half of the beans, and just seeded the other half this week to spread out harvest. I have been working to be a better succession planter this year, and I think I am doing well. I also think I need to be a better journaler for the garden.


For my pole beans below, there is not an issue. They will simply grow above the potato vines. Best case scenario!


Peas and other companions

For my peas, peppers, and tomatoes (and anything else companion planted with peas), I have discovered the best configuration. Below, the peas are planted and trellised on the left. I have peppers on the right. South is to the right. The peas tend to stretch to the south, toward the sun in spring, and so they lean into the peppers. They encroach on the pepper’s space and I thought it might inhibit the growth of the peppers. Although I don’t think it is, I will definitely plant the peas on the south side of the bed and let them lean into the walkway. This will give any companion plant more room.


And you can see that space in the picture below. In this picture, south is reversed and to the left, and you can see the peas lean south. There is plenty of space between the peppers in the right of the bed. This is definitely the best configuration. (And you can see I need to weed in there!)


Below is a long 12′ bed with peas (heavy with pods!) on the left and tomatoes trellised up the stakes at the right. South is the right. I had the same concern with the peas encroaching into the tomatoes space and inhibiting their growth, but there doesn’t seem to be any problems either. Here is the same space issue, and it would have been better to plant the peas on the south side of the bed.


Another big problem with this configuration I discovered yesterday: trying to get to the peas! The peas are draped onto the tomatoes and peppers, which makes reaching the pods difficult. As the peas mature, the pods become heavy the vines droop and drop to the ground. To harvest the peas, I can reach the peas by the walkway, but also need to reach through the tomatoes and peppers to get the majority of them!

The peppers are small, so it is easier to reach through them. The tomatoes are now taller than me, with broader leaves… spiders have started to make their webs…yeah, it is like reaching into the heart of darkness. Harvesting with two hands is difficult, as well as trying to lift the vines to search under them for pods. I definitely learned a lesson here!

By the way, below are all peas we (my son and me, and my 2-yr and 4-yr old girls for moral support) harvested the other morning. Nearly half a bushel! And they are so tasty. So, even though I didn’t have the best configuration nailed in some beds, stuff grew and we will eat it!



3 thoughts on “Experiments in Efficiency (part 2)

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