Thanks, occobuco. How I do envy your spatial design abilities! Although I am happy with the layout of my entertainment area--and it was quite a challenge based on 10 books of landscape architectural design--I have yet to prove myself with an actual plant.
Last year I spent most of the time preparing the soil, but I did get some native plants in and I do hope they overwinter and return in the spring.
The eight inch frame is in! Yea!!!
I'm not so worried about the wet bottom, which in my area will happen sixteen inches below my raised garden. Our heavy months for rain are Sept and May, with a few El Nino exceptions, otherwise, well, we use our well for water.
I DID read some on the bio-intensive French. It was covered in a book called "How to Raise More Vegetables in Less Space Than You Ever Thought Possible." The author's plan, orignating in CA and now practiced in some third world countries incorporates a lot of the bio-intensive French methods.
In some ways, Bartholomew's approach is similar. He doesn't pack the seeds into the squares though. The spacing say for something that needs to be 3 inches apart, would still be 3 inches apart, just in a square and not in a row. That way, you never walk on your soil, and you use much less--about 80% less!--properly prepared soil for each crop, you also use 80% less water, have 80% less weeding, etc. It's just a more efficient use of resources and especially time.
Also, by planting different crops in each square--or for those plants that need more room, several squares--you can sort of fake out the bugs, have a continuous harvest without ever having to give away or can excess, the crops rotate with the season, so you are always changing that little square out, and you can plant a huge variety in a very small amount of space. Companion planting is still an option, and a marigold or two in the center can perfume and protect a large amount of crops.
As far as Mr. dupre's space, well, we're just going to prepare one of those 4 x 8 areas for now and cover the others with leaves. I'm think he wants to grow herbs--he's such a wonderful cook you wouldn't believe! So, I hope they won't need more than six inches and, well, in May when we get some torrential rains, well, he may just have to replant.
In the seventies, when this property was rented out to some college students, they had a garden, and I mean, they just plopped the seeds in the ground and had vegetables year round which Mr. dupre would share in once a month when he came by to collect the rent. I've been told this is some pretty good soil, but after reading all these books on different growing strategies, well, I just think I want my soil, location, and soil depth to be as perfect as I can get it.
It's probably overkill, but <sigh> that's in my nature.
Thanks for your input. I really am glad to have the total twelve inches and am very glad to have this layout in one huge square and not several 4 x 8 rectangles, and to have the garden in this different location, as well. The whole thing, well, it's really just what I want, without any compromises!
And . . . I don't have to haul off 3,500 pounds of dirt!