Over the weekend I tackled more prep work in the vegetable garden. I've already planted several things in the raised beds including onions, potatoes, lettuce, and spinach but planting wasn't the main weekend task. One of the things I really didn't like about my vegetable garden is now officially a thing of the past - the grass! In each of my garden layouts I've had issues with a grass pathway down the middle of the garden. It required me to bring in the mower each week to cut the grass down to walkable heights and I decided that this year I would make things easier in the long run. I laid down pieces of cardboard over the grass and covered them with mulch to completely smother the grass that was still present underneath. Hauling all that mulch into the vegetable garden wasn't fun but the overall time and work involved will be much less in the future.
As I can I'll convert the mulch pathway to either stepping stones, bricks, or a combination of both. Only two things stand in the way of that: money and time. When you have the money you don't have the time and when you have the time you don't have the money! Mulch was the cheapest option even though it will need replaced eventually. Ultimately I'd like to see a steppable ground cover like elfin thyme in between paving stone cracks. We'll see, I might change my mind again!
Hopefully the vegetable garden layout I have planned will be very efficient and allow me much more room for growing vegetables. I've noticed that each year my vegetable garden ideas get bigger and bigger and my allotted garden space hasn't. That means that my vegetable garden must grow! That's a given isn't it? I may need to expand the garden back another 8 feet to allow for more raised beds, or at least some in ground vegetable beds that could house corn or beans.
You may have noticed some randomly shaped paving stones in the picture. Those are broken remains from another project. They work pretty good as paving stones which gave me the idea to randomly add more and more stones as I could to form the walkway through the vegetable garden. I hope to replace the beds on the right and left with larger beds made from stone or concrete blocks. Not the gray cinder block kind but something nicer, like what you would use for a patio or retaining wall project. When the garden is 100% finished (yeah right) I want it to be a feature of my yard that draws the eye.
The long raised bed to the left of the picture is where the potatoes are this year. Carrots and bush beans will make excellent companion plantings for the potato plants. The raised bed to the left only has garlic and cilantro in it right now but will most likely end up with a tomato or two planted there. I'm toying with the idea of a trellis to go over the walkway from the second raised bed to its twin across the pathway. Cucumbers would cover the trellis.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Preparing the Vegetable Garden in Spring
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Dave is the author of Growing The Home Garden and runs a small nursery business growing vegetables and herbs for local customers in Spring Hill, TN. (Blue Shed Gardens or FB page). He has written for gardening publications, Troy-Bilt and Lowe's and is available for edible garden consulting. Dave gardens organically and when he isn't writing, collecting seeds, or propagating plants he's parenting his 4 children as a stay at home dad.