Establish its gardens

The layout of its site is an opportunity to organize the different spaces of a market garden to promote efficient work in each of its daily operations. But to achieve it, you must first have an overview of all the real estate elements (warehouse, water supply, greenhouses, etc.) forming a market garden and realize a good development plan, well matured.

The organization of the premises working

Work in the fields involves coming and going constant between the different infrastructures and gardens. Peeing, forgetting a tool, or going expensive for a missing harvest bin is a situation. very common during the same day. If each of these trips represents a break from work, say 15 minutes, imagine the time lost at the end of a day, a week, a season ... For this reason, it is important to plan site traffic and locate traffic most frequented places daily (the washing station, cold room, storage shed tools and toilets) as close as possible to the gardens. Ideally, all of these places should be grouped under the roof of the same building which would be located in the center of your gardens. Although such an arrangement of the plots is not always possible, it is still necessary to be careful not to move away from it.

Once the location of the infrastructure has been determined, the next step is to plan the interior spaces. Special attention must be given to the place of handling, because wash, handling, and storing vegetables is an important part of the work. Let this place be inside a building or under a lean-to open, you should arrange it so that it be pleasant and functional. I recommend you strongly to visit other vegetable farms, regardless of the size and type of production, to study how the places of work were organized. It is excellent how to get ideas on the best way to arrange your workspace. As a general rule, a good installation does not depend on the size of the farm; it is effective on a small or large scale.

Standardization of spaces of cultures

To simplify the management of their numerous crops, most experienced market gardeners will segment their fields into several pairs of the same dimension. This subdivision facilitates various aspects of crop management such as the purchase of seeds, the dosage of amendments, the calculation of production and yields as well as crop rotation. In short, a large part of the planning.

Lucky for us, before we settled down definitively in Saint-Armand, we had been initiated into the importance of standardizing spaces for culture and we have organized our site accordingly. In our gardens, all the boards have a width of 120 centimeters (about 48 inches) center to center, except those in our greenhouse at tomatoes. The flower beds have a width of 75 centimeters (about 30 inches) and the aisles for circulating, a width of 45 centimeters (about 18 inches). This arrangement allows us to span easily a board without trampling it while ensuring the easy passage of wheelbarrows. More and more market gardeners use flower beds with a width of 75 centimeters, today several tools and equipment are standardized to this width. If you plan to cultivate without a tractor, these are the dimensions you should adopt.

As for the length of our boards, they are every 30 meters (about 100 feet). This measure is adapted to our production scale and is not a standard. In another market garden, the planks could be 10, 15 meters, or any other length. The idea to remember is that they should all be the same dimension to allow the standardization of tarpaulins, irrigation lines, floating covers, and other equipment tools. The material is then versatile and therefore less necessary large quantity. Anyone who has ever spent time looking for a floating blanket of good dimension can easily understand at what point this strategy is slow. In our annual planning, this standardization of lengths will also have enabled us to use the plank as a unit of measurement, replacing the traditional yields per hectare which did not take into account our intensive spacing.

Thus, we can calculate the doses of fertilizer amendments to be made in the gardens not in terms of ton/hectare, but rather of wheelbarrow/plank.

Finally, we grouped our boards into plots of the same size that we indifferently call “garden” or “plot”. Thus, our gardens are divided into 10 plots of 20 meters X 34 meters to form gardens of 16 boards grouped by vegetables of the same family or similar fertilization care (see chapter 6 on organic fertilization).

The length of a garden is equal to that of our boards (30 meters), the addition of an aisle space of 2 meters at each end to leave room for the passage of the harvest trolley. A total, therefore, of 34 meters. Once again, this subdivision is appropriate for our needs and could differ from one market garden to another. All in all, it's their consistency that makes the model so interesting.

The location of greenhouses and tunnels

In a market garden, the use of tunnels and at least one greenhouse is essential to extend its production season. We differentiate between greenhouse tunnels by the fact that these are usually not heated (or minimally heated), have only plastic, and do not require electrical input. The greenhouse will be used as a nursery in the spring while the tunnels will serve to extend seasons. During the summer, both are used to shelter and promote profitable heat crops like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. The location of greenhouses and tunnels should be determined taking into account the following considerations.

 As they must be visited several times a day in spring and fall to control ventilation, it is better to locate greenhouses and tunnels near other sites. regularly frequented stalls. In the case of a heated lock, it is also necessary to provide drive-over access for the fuel supply.

 A north-south orientation is more advantageous from the point of view of the light distribution during the production season. On the other hand, an east-west orientation allows capturing a maximum of solar radiation from September to March, when the sun is lower. To extend the season with tunnels, this is the ideal orientation.

When several structures are erected in parallel, it is necessary to avoid that one structure does not create shade on another during the colder days. To eliminate this problem, it is necessary to provide a spacing equal to the width of the structure between the two. This spacing is also necessary to accommodate snow blown during snow removal from greenhouses and tunnels.

Protection against deer

The presence of roe deer (white-tailed deer) in the surroundings of a garden must be considered a significant threat. These can eat the equivalent of several thousand dollars in one night and put part of your life at risk. production. If deer (or other such pests) are a threat in your area, the best way to protect yourself is to surround your walls with a 2-meter-high metal fence. It is a durable solution that has been proven, but it is also expensive.

In the context of starting up or leasing land, an electric fence is a better option. Both mobile and non-permanent, this solution is also more economical. Different market gardeners have also praised the merits of a trellis made of polypropylene specifically designed to control deer.

From what I know, this fence is UV resistant and is easy to set up (and move, if needed) given its lightness. I wonder on the other hand sm the durability of such a product in terms of snow accumulations. It is to be studied.

Finally, there is another solution that does not has never failed us: our good farm dog. As he is not tied up and sleeps outside, he keeps deer away from our gardens - although it is not uncommon to see them up to a twenties in the neighboring field. Of course, the nocturnal barking causes us at times an inconvenience, but it is a solution that provides us with a formidable companion and requires minimal investment: a doghouse and feed.