haha...I'm also not a great 'crop rotator!' With such a small garden, and my passion for tomatoes and capsicums, the garden doesn't really lend itself to crop rotation much. I like to think I make up for this by and with the liquid compost I give it, and the companion planting. With regards to the seeds, the only things I sow directly are beans (any type), corn and peas. Everything else I start in trays or pots. Of course, no point in sowing beans at all until the soil is warm...too early, and they tend to just rot, stagnate, or simply disappear. So I don't do the corn/beans until late October, while I do plant most other 'summer' things in like early September! I then cover my plantings with frost cloth, to be safe, for about 6 weeks, while they settle in and start growing. I hope you enjoy the 'three sisters' method next year...it's kinda fun, and very practical in a lot of sense. Gotta love some of the 'old ways' - wisdom and experience is something I find in some of the old and ancient ways of gardening. Nice to mix that with just plain 'haphazard' intuitiveness, which is probably how I would best term myself! haha
A friend of mine is a more 'modern' gardener. She tests the soil regularly, adjusts her compost to suit, feeds the type of nutrients she needs for root crops, leaf crops and above ground crops...it suits her and she's good at it. Personally, I can't be bothered! LOL I figure if I'm giving my soil the best possible naturally balanced diet (just like humans!!) then the soil will be happy. Worm wee is THE BEST balanced nutrient diet and comfrey (whether in tea or as material compost) supplies great nutrients too. So I sometimes mix the two together, and just pour it on! Pfft....Mother Nature will take care of the rest. If it's supposed to grow, it will...if not, so be it. Better crop next year! LOL
Hi Shannon - to maximise space, I started 3 years ago using the Square Foot Gardening method that I had read about 20 years ago but never got the opportunity to implement. http://www.squarefootgardening.org/
I'm keen on growing UP rather than out, (wish I could apply that to myself! LOL) so most things are on vertical frames so that they don't take up ground space. The only things I haven't done that with so far are pumpkins - maybe next year. I also use a sort of intuitive companion planting thing (I don't do anything by convention...I'm too lazy!) and so I DO grow my onions (even though they take a long time) and I plant them between all the tomatoes and capsicums, as they help with disease and pest control. As I've said previously, I put things very closely together - for me, this seems to reduce weeding as well.
For many years my vegetable garden was 'tidy' in rows, and didn't have a weed or a hair out of place. I grow differently now, and have relaxed my expectations of a 'perfect' garden, so if something does decide to ramble, I let it. Hey...when it's finished providing food for us, it's only going to be ripped out anyway...why not let it do it's thing - especially pumpkins and squash.
I have found it very important, with my style of gardening, to ensure that the soil is well fed with nutrients - and as I don't currently make my own solid compost, I make my own comfrey tea, and I use worm wee as well, as I mentioned earlier. I also make my own organic sprays IF needed - told you, I'm a lazy gardener! I rarely weed during the growing time - I rarely need to. I think I have only weeded (5 minutes!) twice since planting out in September.
With regards to pumpkins etc, you might like to investigate the Three Sisters method for beans, pumpkin/squash, and corn. It definitely saves space, and they compliment each other with nutrients and support.
Hi Shannon, thank you for your message. Yes, would be great to meet each other. you can e-mail me on email@example.com so we can swap details. At the moment you can find me outside in the orchard, weeding and mulching my fruit trees which is a big job... Looking forward to meeting you, Veronique