After working things out and making some decisions on where we want to plant things, we are ready to mark out beds in preparation for planting. We have seeds than need to be direct sown before our first frost, and those are the areas we want to focus on.
We’d decided to mark off blocks at 20′ x 20′ (about 6m x 6m) for the corn and 20′ x15′ (about 6m x 4.5m) for the sunflowers, and then make 3′ x 8′ (about 1m x 2.5m) beds for most of the rest.
With that in mind, I figured the easiest way to mark off blocks would be with knotted cord. I used 2 lengths of paracord with a loop at one end. From the loop, I tied knots at 3′, 8′, 15′ and 20′ We have a bundle of small marker flags, and I grabbed those to mark the corners of the plots.
The first thing I did was mark off a 20′ x 20′ block in the furthest corner, from which everything else would be lined up.
I decided to start the rectangular plots roughly 4′ (just over 1m) away from where the corn will be. Once I started marking off the first one, though, I quickly threw away the idea of making them only 8 ft long. For this space, that is just minuscule!
I made them 20′ long, instead.
In the above photo, there are 4 plots marked off, with 3′ paths between them.
I added 1 more and ran out of flags, so I used a stick from the pile of branched I’d pruned a few weeks back.
Then I went back and made more marker sticks. We’ve got the bright orange marking paint, so I used that on one end of the sticks so they would be more visible.
Using the two knotted ropes to find where to place the markers worked really, really well. With the looped ends at markers or flags, lining up the knots to find the next spot to mark also made it easy to keep straight lines and right angles at the corners. It’s not perfect, of course. The rough ground alone made that impossible. They don’t need to be perfect. All of this is just temporary, anyhow, until we plant trees here.
I took the time to make more markers from sticks, spraying one end with the bright orange paint, then made another row of plots.
This is how it looked when I was done.
Yeah. I know. Hard to see!
So I edited it to as close as I could match the lines.
The big block by itself is where the corn will start. It’s hard to know how much space we’ll actually need, but at least we have the general area worked out.
With just the rectangular plots, this is an area that’s 15′ wide and 66′ long (about 4.5m x 20m), including the paths in between.
We will be marking more of the rectangular plots, as well as another corn block at this end.
Our three varieties of bush beans will be planted in the plots nearest the corn, though I’m already rethinking that. The peas, which need to be planted right away, will need to be trellised, so they need to be to the north, so they don’t shade other plants. We have only 2 varieties, but one of them is a bag of 200 seeds, while the other is a typical seed envelope, so having two sections of the green peas and one of the purple should work out. The three varieties of beans can take the next three sections.
The actual dimensions of the area, compared to what we thought we had on the satellite image, means we’ve got three plots at the end that does not have anything specific planned for them. It’s hard to see in the photo, but even the furthest plots are still far enough away from the apple trees that they will still get full sun.
We’re out of cardboard, and we’ll be running out of straw very quickly. It’s going to be a challenge with all that grass, until the plants fully mature. By planting densely, they should shade out and choke out the grass and weeds. When we do add the soil, we will have to be careful in how we use it, or we’ll run out very quickly! One of the things to keep in mind, as always, is that this is meant to be temporary. When it comes to food trees, they take so long to reach productions stage, we really need to get those planted quickly. If we can swing it next year, that would be amazing, but even if we can only afford to do a few a year, rather than a whole nut orchard, all at once, that will be a good start.
Until then, we’ll be breaking up and amending the soil with vegetables. 🙂