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Quarts into pint pots
Sun 7-Aug-11
11:23 am
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maggenpie
Cornwall, UK

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Having a tiny plot I'm always trying to get too much into too little space. I'm sure I can't be the only one, so how about sharing the successes and failures of trying to squeeze too much in?

This year I've found that ten tomato plants will thrive in a 6ft by 4ft greenhouse provided I move everything else out.

In two raised beds, 18 inches high by 4ft by 3ft, I'm experimenting with the three sisters planting. I stuck in 12 tall canes and planted two cobra climbing french beans to each one. Between the rows I planted sweetcorn, and in the corners trailing squashes. Its well fed with compost, top dressed from the wormery and gets a liquid feed of wormery/comfrey/weed tea when I remember.

So far, the beans are loving it, cropping like crazy. The squashes are romping away and setting plenty of fruit. I realised early on that they would swamp everything so I'm training them around the outside of the bed. The corn isn't doing so well. My first sowing rotted off in the cold early summer weather. One survived and has competed successfully with the beans, so that's obviously the key. The later sowing didn't get away quick enough and is struggling for the light dispite my removing large quantities of bean and squash leaves.

In a narrow raised bed, same height but only 18in wide, I grew salad between clumps of peas. It seemed like a good idea but the peas won. Next time I'll plant further apart.

The kale is happily sharing with the courgettes, neither seem to mind being squashed in together, 2 courgettes and 6 kale in another raised bed, 18in x 4ft.

Any more tricks for getting more than our fair share out of limited space?

Never assume anything - except an occasional air of intelligence.

Sun 7-Aug-11
4:43 pm
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mike.
Coventry

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Not tried the three sisters method but I remember reading about it a while ago.
My main lessons learned are: courgettes need lots of room and won't happily share a tub with another plant. Some salad veg planted next to one was robbed of light and grew tall and spindley. Another in a smaller tub didn't grow very well at all. A slightly more specific lesson is that one half of our garden doesn't get enough light and only tall plants do well there - something I must remember next year.

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Sun 7-Aug-11
5:03 pm
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kayerunrig
lincolnshire

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leeks squash and tomatoes seem to thrive together , ive a 4ft square patch with 3 monster squash a dozen tomatoes and underneath them are the leeks i planted first which seem to be doing really well , maybe its because its an old greenhouse base that holds water well

Sun 7-Aug-11
7:17 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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Beans are good in small spaces because of growing upwards. I tried the 3 sisters last year and it failed, the lessons learnt were to be careful of the type of beans so they don't overwhelm the corn, the squashes suffered due to a cold start and didn't get a good start and I decided that actually the 3 sisters approach is for maize, a bean for drying for winter and pumpkins that mature later and not courgettes that need picking regularly. If the courgettes romp away it makes getting to sweetcorn difficult but maize ripens on the plant, so it is better to use that idea for veg that dries on the plant and stores for winter not summer cropping.

Thinking vertically is the best way of cramming in things, something high or that scrambles up a pole, something of medium size and something below but can't think off hand some suggestions. One thing I would recommend though is trying to find someone who will make some unglazed pots that can water the plants easily. I have pots out on the balcony with tomatoes and I don't water often, I just make sure the pots are topped up every now and again. If they get established they romp away but it can be difficult getting them going I found - especially as we had a really hot dry June.cheers

Tue 9-Aug-11
12:37 pm
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maggenpie
Cornwall, UK

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I'm always wondering where to poke leeks in, so thanks for that tip Kaye. That's the trouble with winter veg, it takes up space in the summer too.

I'm chopping off excess growth in my two 3 sisters plots, and the corn is catching up a bit. I think if the first planting had survived it would have worked.

Also, being a miser and a skinflint, when I found unidentifiable squash seedlings in the wormery I planted them in the only spare spot I had - the jerusalem artichoke patch. I keep the arties cut down so them don't blow over anyway, so the squashes - whatever they are - are scrambling up them. They all look happy enough.

The unglazed pots for watering is a nice idea. I use plastic bottles with the ends cut off.

Never assume anything - except an occasional air of intelligence.

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