I worked on the garden some more today. I finished double digging the last of it in the morning, and moved on to spreading and mixing compost. Yesterday, I bought a total of 14 cubic feet of 3 different kinds of compost (“soil builder”, manure compost, “good for vegetables” compost), and since I have a total of 72 square feet, that comes out to a little over 2 inches per square foot. I decided to spread 12 cubic feet (exactly 2 inches per square foot, in theory), and keep a 2 cubic foot bag of compost in reserve for strategic deployment later. But would 2 inches per square foot be enough? I’m not sure. After mixing in all 12 cubic feet, I felt like the soil could use more help, so I went into town to buy more compost. Unfortunately, the hardware store had already closed (though I got more water, so the trip wasn’t completely for naught) so I might just start planting tomorrow, unless I feel like going into town again (it takes right about 30 minutes, so it’s not exactly trivial to do so).
The other challenge has been to figure out how to fit everything into my garden bed. I guess you’re supposed to figure that out before hand, but I’m not the planning sort and I just like to do things and wing it. It usually works out ok, even if not optimally. In any case, the patch of ground I picked out for my garden bed turned out to be 6ft by 12ft (totally not planned… didn’t even measure it until after it was all dug up). And I’ve got these plants, and some seeds, and they just need to go in that patch of ground, right? Boy. Who woulda thought that plants could be so picky? Well, I sure didn’t. It’s like trying to come up with a seating chart for a wedding party. The egg plants like to be in a group, the strawberries want some afternoon shade, the corn has to be in a block with at least 4 rows, the tomatoes hate everybody, corn likes to hang out with beans, but actually so do the strawberries, and one kind of squash is fine in the shade, while the zucchini want both sun and shade. And then I have to take into consideration the fact that my arms are only so long, and my hips only so forgiving, and ensure everything is accessible with those constraints in mind.
I invested quite a bit of time reading about the compatibility of plants, and running through numerous permutations of possible layouts in my mind. At the end, I decided the tomatoes were going to have to go somewhere else. But other than that, I think I’ve come up with a layout that fits most of the things I have, and in a way that the plants themselves will (hopefully) find satisfactory. A section on the southern end will contain strawberries, egg plants, and bell peppers, with a line of corn down half the southern edge, just to provide shade. The rest of the bed to the north will contain 4 rows of corn, oriented east-west. In between rows one and two, and three and four will be zucchini on the eastern edge (to catch some morning rays), yellow squash on the western edge, with beans in between. The space between rows two and three will be left clear for access.