One of the reasons why I love to grow things here in Tucson in the summer time is to see my garden turn into a miniature jungle. On a small scale, I can use the intense light to my advantage by packing in as many vegetables as I can into as small as a space as possible. This is what I call “intensive planting”.
|My understory here has squash and sweet potato vines.|
Intensive planting can occur in an area where the intensity and duration of sunlight is so great that you can cover every square inch of ground with vegetables. In areas of the country where there is minimal light (or in partially shaded areas with a lot of moisture) gardeners may not be able to grow their plants so close together without experiencing negative side effects such as bacterial or fungus problems.
|One method of intense planting is to consider plant height|
The lowest canopy of my garden is often covered with sweet potatoes – which spread like ivy in all directions – only a few inches off the ground. The next tallest area is populated with peppers, tomatoes, squash and other plants that grow between 2 and 4 feet tall. The highest area of my garden is populated with cucumber or bean vines, some of which will grow as high as I can trellis.
|Vigorous tall pole beans grow next to squash of medium height|
By thinking about layers when planting, gardeners can avoid having to do much weeding, especially later in the season. Though this method may not be for everyone, it is definitely one approach that has served me well for me here in Arizona.
|One of the few problems with a crowded garden is where to walk|