Once Till Method

We’ve tilled under what I would guess to be a little less than  an acre for a garden. It’s in an odd shape, so that’s just an estimate. It’s our starting point and we have some more space to expand, which we probably will do.. later. For now I am working on setting up and planting what is already tilled.

I’ve been doing a bit of reading about things like companion planting, no till methods, and an interesting concept called permaculture. I’m adopting some of these ideas into my design in an effort to create a garden setup that can stay in place on a longer, if not permanent basis without being tilled each year. I’m also seeking to create a garden that tends itself more and more with every passing season and that provides a variety of produce that can be harvested at different times of the year.

I have drawn out a plan that combines annuals and perennials in a layout that should (hopefully) channel water runoff  and provide it to our plants, while allowing excess to flow through. The previous garden plot had a nasty habit of creating a dam when it rained, which then turned the ground into a soggy mess.

The first step (after figuring out what we wanted to grow, making a plan, doing what we could to get rid of the bermuda grass, and ordering seeds of course!) has been to take a shovel and manually create pathways and raised, mounded beds. After that I took a rake and smoothed out the steeps sides so I could plant them and to prevent the first rain from undoing all my work. Running over it all with a rake helped me find large rocks and clumps of bermuda that were still hiding in my soil as well.  (difference between side that has been raked and the one that hasn’t is visible in the photo below)

After that I took cardboard that had been accumulating around the house for recycling and laid it over my raised bed. In theory, this should create a biodegradable weed barrier. If nothing else, it beats sending it to the landfill.

Over the top of the cardboard goes a thick layer of mulch. For this row I’m putting a layer of hay since there was a quickly decaying bale of hay hanging out in the yard near where this particular bed is located. Other mulch material we intend to use this year includes dead leaves, mulched yard debris, pet hair (especially near the wood line in hopes that the smell of dog may deter the deer, rabbits, and other nibbling critters), and shredded paper (junk mail does have a use!). In the years to come the plan is to remove the seeds from our annuals at the end of their season, then cut them off at the roots and add them to the bed as mulch.

After all that is done, it will be time to plant! I finished up the first row this morning. I planted it with a combination of lemon basil, roma tomatoes, and marigolds (calendula). It was raining a bit so that was all I managed to do in the garden this morning. Here’s hoping that tomorrow won’t be so wet and muddy!

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One response to this post.

  1. I can’t wait to see how your garden progresses. I wish we had garden space…

    Reply

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