Design For Growing #2 – Observation

So, some of our link work from Day 2 was to get some more practice in with a design for growing in a small space. I first started talking about this task in a previous post here.

Just as a reminder – here is the first part of the task we were set:

Survey a space or piece of land you may want to grow food on. This could be a windowsill, balcony, garden, front steps, piece of allotment, community growing space…

  1. Do a sketch map
  2. Draw out a base map
  3. Overlay a sun map
  4. Identify microclimate(s) 

Here’s the space I’m working with – it’s in the garden of our flat, which all in all is about 10m x 8m (more of that later). The aspect this photo is taken from is facing South East – the wall is almost exactly perpendicular to the East direction. It’s been used by us for growing veg since summer 2008 but was previously covered in gravel and weed suppressant for (I assume) many years. We’ve spent each year adding compost to the topsoil that we found under the weed suppressant and building it up each year:


Sketch Map / Basemap

Here’s how I started out with the sketch map of the area. I then went back and tried to get some baseline measurements. I’m afraid I struggled with exactly the same stuff as on Day 2! My tape measure wasn’t long enough! I used the East wall, which runs all the way along the length of the garden as my baseline. Even this went wrong though, as I started measuring chunks of the garden up… then came out into the centre of the garden and measuring the edge of the bed… because that was easier to access than the slightly awkward wall…. talk about not following instructions! Anyhow – here’s my first sketch map attempt:


I then used the measurements I’d taken to work up my first attempt at the garden basemap!


Spot any problems? I can:

  • Baseline runs through the centre of the garden
  • The scale I used onto this A4 paper basically meant the baseline was the full length of the bit of paper – no room round the edges
  • I got carried away measuring things, as it was fun! but forgot that what I actually set out to do was just measure the veg patch… so  I went over-enthusiastically into a whole garden map… but didn’t finish that job properly either, as I ran out of steam… and the A4 paper wouldn’t have been enough to cover it all…
  • Also, because I kind of took measurements in a funny way, my ‘square’ didn’t quite ‘meet up’ at the right point when I started to draw it out. This was also down to the fact I have no compass / protractor etc… so I’m going to resolve that very soon!
  • No scale! and all looks a bit sideways wonky…

Aside from that, I have to say I really enjoyed doing this… so I went back to the job and drew another basemap, JUST doing what I set out to do – the bit of garden that’s about 2.5m x 2.0m that we call ‘the bed’. The baseline is the wall to the east which I haven’t measured in full (do I need to?). Here is version 2:


So, this is much improved – correct scale, has a compass the right way up, and a title, and some space around the edge and most importantly is the small scale growing space I intend to design.

Sun Mapping

What next? Sun map… hmmm. I don’t have any tracing paper…. back to the drawing board. Data wise I know that by around 15:30 at this time of year the sun starts to fade from the patch in the south east corner. By 16:00 it’s in shadow although there is still light. In the morning, I noticed today that even at 08:20 when the sun was fully up, the patch was still in shade – I reckon it would be in full sun by about 9am or 9.30 latest – but that means it’s going to get around 6 hours of direct sunlight a day – not bad actually!


A bit of cheating here – I know this space quite well – here’s what I’ve observed over the years:

  • The East wall gives pretty good protection from the wind
  • the bed is in a bit of a sun trap
  • the South West corner tends to produce better yield than the North East corner (why? sun?)

Right – that’s enough for now… I’ll do the sun map overlay once I’ve got some tracing paper and report back then.

Over and out.


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