Why is the garden in the shape of a cross?

The garden has been designed to be productive, beautiful and require as little maintenance as possible.  From the beginning it was clear where the garden was going to be, and how big it could be.  So we had come to come up with something that worked in that space.  In this series of post I will explain the design of the garden and give tips for designing your own garden.

Designing for productivity

The Friends group wanted to grow vegetable using organic methods.  To reduce build up of pests and disease we decided to use an annual crop rotation system.

Annual Crop Rotation

Simply put: plants are divided into families and groups, and each year a group of plants move to a different part of the garden.

Most crop rotation systems have four groups, I call them:

1. Sunnies- the cucurbitaceae (cucumbers, courgettes etc) and the solananceae (tomatoes, pumpkins) families

2. Beets- apiaceae (carrots, celery) and the chenopodiaceae (spinach, chard, beetroot)

3. Cabbages- brassicaceae (rocket, mizuna, mustard)

4. Beans- alliaceae (onion, garlic) and papilionaceae (peas, beans)

There are also plants that don’t fit into the crop rotation groups like herbs (as they are perennial or come back next year) and things like lettuces.

With this in mind we decided to have four main beds.  We could have had four separate beds, but putting them in the cross shape meant that we didn’t need as much edging and more edge means more weeding.  It also meant that we could have a fifth bed for herbs.

So next year everything will rotate clockwise by one bed.  So the tomatoes will be where the beets are growing this year, and the cabbages will move to where to beans are this year. This is particular important for mitigating against disease like club root that effect the beets group.

Tip keep a record of what you grow where.  Try not to grow the same family in the same place year after year.

The bed size

The size of the bed means that from any point in the garden you can reach into the middle of the bed without stepping on the soil.  This is important so the soil doesn’t become compacted as then roots find it more difficult to grow, and water is less likely to infiltrate the soil.

Tip If you can’t easily reach into your beds without stepping on them, put in some stepping stones.  Also make sure that you regularly aerate the soil by putting your garden fork in the soil and wiggling it backwards and forwards.

The location of the cross

We considered different location.  In the end we decided in the centre, as this meant there was enough room for people and wheelbarrows inside the space.  We could then also have other things like compost bins on site as well as benches.  We decided that if we wanted more growing space we could add beds to the outside.

This meant that the garden design is in the shape of a cross.  This is also in-keeping with the formal design of the rest of the park.

Next time I will explain more about the herb spiral.

If you have questions or feedback about the garden design do contact hedvigm [at] hedvigmurray [dot] co [dot] uk

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3 Responses to Why is the garden in the shape of a cross?

  1. Debbie says:

    I was fortunate to bump into jannet tonight, while walking around Dyke road park and discovered the story of the community garden, what a wonderful idea!

    • Thanks Debbie. Glad that you like the idea. Would you like to come along to one of the events. We meet every 3rd Saturday of the month from 12-2 for an hour of gardening and then have a shared lunch/bbq together.

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