When talking about efficiency in a garden you are really talking about how effectively you can water the plants using the least amount of water. Having the right soil, types of plants, and irrigation system can help greatly. I would say that doing things like collecting rain water, or using grey water from your house to water your garden would likely do much more good in terms of watering efficiency rather than altering the specific layout.
It can. There are different plants that require varied amount of water and sun. If you plan your garden accordingly you can maximize the growth of all the plants by placing the plants in the amount of sun that they need. You can also carefully set up drip watering systems so the plants that need the most water get the water first and then the other plants get the runoff or indirect water. You can also make a garden efficient by planting it where it will get the most natural rain fall.
You can also increase the efficiency of space use in your garden by the way you design it. Alot of farmers grow crops in rows–however this is primarily because of mechanized methods of planting, cultivation and harvesting. In a garden where most of the work is done by hand, you dont necessarily need rows–just bed space and paths–and so can increase the ratio of bed space to paths dramatically by how you design your growing area. If you are using raised beds, for example, the whole bed functions as a “row” (most seed packets misleadingly suggest spacing as if rows were always necessary), but you just need to provide enough space between plants so that they dont crowd each other out. For example, if you are growing kale, just transplant the plants so that they are all about 8 inches a part in all directions (making a diamond pattern uses the space most effectively).
Also, plants take up different kinds of space as they grow. For example imagine carrots, peas and lettuce. The peas grow up, the carrtos grow down (for the most part) and the lettuce grows on the surface. By planting these types of plants together in the same space you can maximize the diversity and quantity you can produce from your garden space.
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