Gardening is always trial and error, at least for me, and often tends to be more "error" than anything else. However, this year I have a new plan to defeat weeds--a checkerboard. My idea is this:
Put down landscape fabric, then put square (or round if you prefer) pavers on top of that in a checkerboard pattern
Then cut X's in the exposed fabric so you can plant your veggies (or whatever plant you're planting).
This year, I have squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers planted between the pavers.
My hope is that I can use the pavers as places to stand to weed and harvest and they also ensure that I don't plant things too closely together.
For supports, we stuck together some old PVC in various odd configurations so I can tie the tomatoes and cucumbers to those as they get taller.
So far, so good. :) I've actually got some green tomatoes on one of the larger plants (the one on the right in the pictures) and I've got a combination of small veggies that I started from seeds and some larger plants that I purchased. We should get a good variety, since I have all different kinds of varieties including a mix of modern hybrids and old fashioned heirloom plants that I grew from seeds.
In the past, I've found that it is best to have plants at various stages of growth for a number of reasons: it extends the harvest; and if pests or disease get into the plants, it may affect only the ones at a specific age so you will still have a chance at a harvest from the plants at a different stage.
While I was whacking weeds this morning, I also noticed some volunteer tomato plants in a spot where I had tomatoes last year. I'm going to let them grow and see what they produce (if anything). Since the tomatoes I had there were hybrids, it is anyone's guess what they will produce, but it will be fun to see.
This morning I also noticed that the tops of my crop of garlic are going brown, which means it is almost time to dig up the heads and dry them. Since we have a LOT of garlic, what we don't use immediately will be frozen. As it turns out, garlic heads freeze very well and once they are frozen, it is super easy to remove the papery husks when you're ready to use them and the cloves still states fresh (albeit a little soft) and are excellent for cooking. This crop this is almost ready for harvest should provide us with enough garlic to last until next season, or at least that's my hope. Then, this fall, I'll lay in another crop, along with lettuce which really only grows well here in autumn/winter/spring.
Hope everyone is enjoying the spring (it's more like summer, here in NC) weather and looking forward to a wonderful season of fresh veggies!