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Tight space, high performance ... Sunset's test garden secrets.

Tight space, high performance ... Sunset's test garden secrets High-performance gardening--growing healthy plants in innovative ways--is called for when space is tight and demands on that space are heavy.

In a 3,200-square-foot test garden at Sunset's Menlo Park, California, headquarters, we grow a succession of plants year-round for research and photography. Fenced off from a 7-acre display garden that's open to visitors, the garden is divided into four test plots, each 23 by 32 feet.

By any measure, it's a high-production garden. This year along, we've harvested basil (18 varieties)> cabbages (20 heads)> carrots (40 varieties)> culinary herbs (13 kinds, many later used in dishes prepared by our kitchens)> gourds (51, of 7 varieties, weighing up to 30 pounds each)> lettuce, onions, and spinach (14 varieties each)>peas (23 varieties yielded more plants each of 12 varieties yielded more than 500 pounds of fruit)> and watermelons (48, the largest weighing in at 38 pounds). Flower beds include bulbs and 20 different drought-tolerant perennials.

To keep up this kind of production, meticulous soil preparation and making every inch of space count are vital. These four pages show how we achieve both. Beginning this month, you can put some of these ideas to use in your own garden.

Since food crops make up many of our plantings, we use nontoxic pest controls (it took us three growing seasons, roughly spring through fall, to get pests down to manageable numbers once chemical use was stopped). Plants are checked regularly. When aphids appear, we try dislodging them with the hose, then apply insecticidal soap every 3 days over a 10-day period to get adults and their larvae. Snails are hand-picked> sand served as a snail and sowbug barrier around lettuce. We use Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) for cabbage worms and budworms.

Before planting, beds are amended with organic matter. To keep weeds down and moisture in soil, we apply mulch such as shredded bark around plants, or cover beds before planting with perforated black polyethylene. We use drip irrigation and fertilize weekly with fish emulsion.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes related articles
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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