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Bio-intensive gardening

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Published on Friday, June 16, 2023

By Victoria Torley 

I have always been a row-planter type of gardener, mainly because I always had a lot of space for gardening. Plus you get a lot of seeds in one of those packets, and it always seemed to be a shame to waste any. 

Even when the seeds were tiny Ė like those of carrots or lettuce Ė and I couldnít plant ďjust one right hereĒ because I am loath to thin them out. But, maybe you donít have a lot of space to plant row upon row of different veggies. If so, this column is for you.

Letís say you live in a condominium or a home with a small yard and you want to grow some vegetables or herbs. Bio-intensive gardening is for you and itís easy once you get started. There are two basic kinds of bio-intensive gardening, square-foot gardening which uses planters and in-ground gardening which requires an actual yard of some sort. 

But letís stick to square-foot gardening since it can be used on a balcony or in a yard. It can also be done in containers Ė usually, those plastic bottle cartons that either get recycled or thrown away.

I like the plastic containers myself. They are the right height for a lot of shallow rooting crops like green beans, peas and broccoli or for starting flowers. Plus, they are lightweight. For more deeply-rooted crops you need the containers used for two-liter soda bottles. These are wonderful containers for beginners because they are also segmented. One type of vegetable goes in each of the segments.

To begin, line the shallow un-segmented planter with landscaperís fabric, usually available at Colono. For the segmented planter, you can save frustration by putting the fabric around the outside of the planter and securing it tightly. Since we are lining the planters with a piece of fabric, you will need to place them on trays to catch excess moisture and keep it from ruining your patio. Now itís ready for soil.

The soil for both types of planters is a combination of garden soil, vermiculite, and composted manure. Add some peat moss and slow-release fertilizer. Make your mixture in a large shallow plastic tub then distribute it into the container(s). If you are using an unsegmented container, you can mark spaces in a grid with a string. Now, itís time for planting seeds.

Since only a few seeds are being planted, keep the remainder of each packet sealed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for successive plantings. There will be successive plantings.

Do you want fresh herbs? This method is perfect for herbs. Because at least six types of herbs can grow this way in one container. You can also move these containers with ease keeping them out in the sun or moving them out of our torrential rains when necessary.

Give bio-intensive gardening a try and let me know how it turns out!

And here they are; the planters I would use if I didnít have eleven acres of space in which to grow things. These were being thrown away, so I rescued them. I use them for transporting potted plants from here to there but they are perfect for bio-intensive gardening.


For more information on this article or about gardening, Ms. Victoria Torley, gardener columnist, can be reached at victoriatorley1@gmail.com

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