What crops do you plant bio-intensively?

jasonw
By jasonw on Thu, Aug 9, 2012 - 6:17pm

I want to start a discussion / survey of what folks are growing bio-intensively in their gardens. So what is growing these days and what are the results so far?  What is your bed size and the spacing between plants?  What would you change?

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17 Comments

FromEarthtoHealth's picture
FromEarthtoHealth
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 10 2012
Posts: 1
Everything I grow is done

Everything I grow is done biointensively - it's more of a philosophy than a process.  I have played a lot with plant spacing and there are so many variables that it becomes more of a art than a science.  With garlic, I plant each clove 3" apart in a diamond formation in the entire bed.  This year I was averaging 156 plants per 4' x 8' raised bed box.  The secret is to try to get the mature plants to form a canopy to suppress weed growth and to achive the highest yield per square foot.

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Joined: Jan 4 2009
Posts: 2484
Trial and Error

We went very intensive with one of our tomato boxes this year.  I wanted to do a proof of concept.  We had 12 plants in one 4 x 4' box and the whole thing just exploded.  Mostly cherry varieties, but we had a plum tigris and a Radiator Charlie Mortgage Lifter that hit 8 feet and was above the tangle.

We have picked close to 30 quarts of cherry tomatoes so far.  The only trouble we had was a touch of septoria that was resolved by a little central pruning to improve air circulation in the middle of the box.  We are in southeast Virginia, on the coast, and we usually get a two week period of pretty hot weather that beats the tomatoes down.  Got through that very well and now the plants are pushing out a lot of new green so we figure we should be picking tomatoes well into October.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1398
Lima beans, carrots, peanuts,

Lima beans, carrots, peanuts, cukes on a trellis, early peas on a teepee, squash, black-eyed peas - plus Jericho cos lettuce, oak leaf and red leaf lettuce in the same box. Also, we have an entire 4' x4' raised bed of basil, which might seem like a lot but we use a lot and I like the flowers, and love to gift it. Finally, we have two raised beds of tomatoes. Like Dogs, I biointensively planted my tomatoes, but with a twist: they have bug-repelling nasturtiums underneath. Nasturtiums are a salad green with edible flowers. I think I had to pull three crab grass clumps all year once they got established.

When you plant things closely enough together the weeding is minimal.

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Good catch safe....

We also planted nasturtiums and marigolds with our tomatoes.  Didn't really have any bug issues other than squash bugs/vine borers - but since the Homeowner's Association would likely frown upon the use of tactical nukes in the garden, the squash bugs and I continue to battle conventionally.

Also planted Watermelon salvia, Gerbera daisies and sombrero daisies as pollinator attractors with great success.  Except I think the watermelon salvia caused the hummingbirds to hallucinate since I heard them humming Grateful Dead tunes while they were busy in the beds.....wink

maceves's picture
maceves
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Posts: 279
tomatoes

I knew I was going to be out of town a lot and took a chance on tomatoes planted deep in large pots and buckets with basil and dwarf marigolds.  I rotated the soil out from other crops from last year and a little more than 20 percent worm compost.  As predicted it got really hot--over a hundred degrees for days at a time--while I was gone. I was able to touch down a few times to water and was off again.  They were remarkably productive, but stopped blooming with the heat.  I didn't clip the Basil, so it has gone to flower and attracts beneficial insects and hummingbirds.  Now with the lower temperatures and a lot of rain they have bloomed again and should prduce another crop.  The marigolds did not do well at all, but I have still had a disease and pest free crop all summer.  Gotta love the worms.

Travlin's picture
Travlin
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A loaded question

Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

Except I think the watermelon salvia caused the hummingbirds to hallucinate since I heard them humming Grateful Dead tunes while they were busy in the beds.....wink

Dogs

What makes you think it was the hummingbirds that were doing the hallucinating?  cool

Travlin 

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
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Posts: 2484
Paint By Number Morning Sky........

Travlin wrote:

Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

Except I think the watermelon salvia caused the hummingbirds to hallucinate since I heard them humming Grateful Dead tunes while they were busy in the beds.....wink

Dogs

What makes you think it was the hummingbirds that were doing the hallucinating?  cool

Travlin 

Because I once accidentally (no really) had a few leaves of the watermelon sage/salvia in a salad - the flowers are quite edible, the leaves not so much - and I saw sounds.

Travlin's picture
Travlin
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Posts: 1322
Far out!

Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

Travlin wrote:

Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

Except I think the watermelon salvia caused the hummingbirds to hallucinate since I heard them humming Grateful Dead tunes while they were busy in the beds.....wink

Dogs

What makes you think it was the hummingbirds that were doing the hallucinating?  cool

Travlin 

Because I once accidentally (no really) had a few leaves of the watermelon sage/salvia in a salad - the flowers are quite edible, the leaves not so much - and I saw sounds.

Far out, man.  Peace brother.  smiley

Travlin 

Lnorris's picture
Lnorris
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Posts: 100
Squash vine borers

Hi Dogs,

I read an article in Grow Magazine recently and it suggested wrapping foil around the base of squash plants when they are a few inches tall to deter the vine borers.  I may try this technique next year as I only plant a few in my garden.  

maceves's picture
maceves
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Joined: Aug 23 2010
Posts: 279
squash vine borers

I have already lost my first volley of squash seedlings to the vine borers.  I have a second group wrapped in nylon stockings and with aluminum collars.   I have a third set in the house waiting to see what happens with the second group.  So far I have resisted the temptation to spray with insecticides.  Any wisdom with this would be appreciated.

MarkM's picture
MarkM
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Joined: Jul 22 2008
Posts: 750
Row cover

but you will have to hand pollinate. That is the only thing that has worked for me and I have tried every trick that I have heard of.

I hate squash vine borers.

Don't think that getting them past seedlings will prevent an attack, it won't.

maceves's picture
maceves
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 23 2010
Posts: 279
thanks

I'll try that.

Rob P's picture
Rob P
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Joined: Oct 8 2008
Posts: 85
maceves - did you try

Those borers are a pain in the butt for sure.  Maybe you already know that the butternut family (moshata? I think that's it) are impervious to them.  Also Rampicante - really great squash and resistant. 

I've been battling the borers for a number of years on summer squash and kubocha.  Last year I had quite a bit of success cutting them out.  I'd slit it open and them kill the worm and then cover it over with soil..  But I tried something else that seemed to work and that I'll try again soon. The borers tend to move outward in the plant and not too far, so every morning (yeh, this requires really wanting squash), I would look for the tell-tale hole and then stick a straight pin at half inch intervals (or so) into the center of the vine.  This does not seem to hurt the vine at all. All you have to do is catch a little of the worm.  Squash are pretty resiliant.  Anyway, I definitely had some success with this last year.

Around here (Mississippi Delta), the borers seem to stop laying around June (I think anyway), so it's a matter of getting the plants to that point.

jasonw's picture
jasonw
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
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Posts: 708
Current bio-intensive crops in the garden

Some updated photos of the bio-intensive bed we established this last winter.  This is a new garden space freshly dug starting in December of 2012. 

Carrots, Beets, and Parsnips.  Onions in the small bed to the right.

Garlic and Shallots. 

2 Types of mustard and cilantro.

Salad mix bed (6 types of lettuce, 6 types of greens, spinach at the end being blocked by the mass of greens)

Tomato plants 18" apart on the diagonal with basil in between. 

westcoastjan's picture
westcoastjan
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 4 2012
Posts: 463
go vertical!

In my small garden I grow things vertically as much as I can. I found a great type of long english cucumber that loves being on a trellis, and the fruit hanging vertically helps them to grow straighter. I also grow some squash vertically, supporting the bigger ones as needed with slings made of old pantyhose tied to the trellis. The taller vine tomatoes share the trellis with the cukes. Pretty curly leaf kales and colourful chards are inter-planted with flowers for added visual and edible delights. I scatter beet and carrot seeds over the entire garden and they happily sprout up in between other veggies, thereby making use of every available inch of soil. My philosophy is basically if there is an empty spot of soil, stick a seed in it.

Jan

Phil Williams's picture
Phil Williams
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2009
Posts: 186
arugula and spinach

I like to overplant arugula and spinach. I can then harvest as they grow as baby lettuce. So I end up with better tasting salad greens, and earlier production.

Carlo Organics's picture
Carlo Organics
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 16 2013
Posts: 1
The Biodynamic French Intensive method

Nice photos. I'd just like to draw attention to the man who basically brought organic gardening to North America, Alan Chadwick. He started a demonstration garden at the University of California back in 1967 which has inspired thousands of organic gardeners up to the present. His project is now called the Center for Agroecology there at UCSC. Photos of that program, Chadwick's techniques, recorded lectures, etc. can be found here:

http://www.alan-chadwick.org

A great resource for all those who are interested in highly productive, organic gardening and farming methods. But perhaps more inportant in the long run is Chadwick's general outlook on life. Both are essential.

Specific discussion on his gardening tecniques, which he called the Biodynamic French Intensive method, can be found hee:

http://www.alan-chadwick.org/html%20pages/techniques/garden_plants/veg_photos.html

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