Adventures in Mound Gardening . . .
by, 04-10-2010 at 03:04 PM (3530 Views)
Each year I look forward to having a vegetable garden. Years ago when my parents would come home from work to have lunch in the summertime, I can remember having freshly picked cucumbers peeled and sliced, ready to make cucumber sandwiches the moment they walked through the door. It's been eons since I've dined on a fresh cucumber sandwich, but I can honestly say I am greatly looking forward to it.
It seems over the past 10 years, having lived in 3 entirely different parts of the country (The Northeast in Maine, the Midwest in Wisconsin, The South East of South Carolina) that every region has it's own way of farming/gardening. I can't say whether any one way is correct or not, but I look at this way, if you plant it, it will grow!
Here's how I chose to plant my garden this year:
First, mark off the area in which you would like to place your garden. In our area we have a number of pesky unwanted "drop offs". If you've never lived in a rural area, you might be unfamiliar with this term... but what it means is that people decide their pets are a bigger pain in the tush then they intended them to be, so they cruise around looking for a nice spot to Dump them in the "country". Someplace that looks fairly well kept, but has a bunch of animals of their own, someplace that fido or fluffy will seemingly "fit right in" and then, dear folks, they open the door and toss the critter out. So, with the high number of drop-offs that come around, this year I decided to forego the Liquid fence recipe that I usually use and construct a fence instead.
Second, till up the area. (I love how easy this sounds, just 4 little words, but in all honesty, this is the most time consuming part of the entire job!) If you don't have a tiller, you can:
- Rake it all by hand, using a shovel to overturn the soil.
- Borrow a Neighbor's/Friend's Tiller
- Rent one from your local hardware store for a few hours (about $20-25)
Third, Rake your rows into mounds. This depends on where you live, but I've always done this for several reasons:
- It Assures that the soil is loose and allows the roots to take hold faster
- It assures that the water will hit the roots and stay moist longer; Alternatively, if you live in a super wet area, you can incorporate rocks for drainage.
- It makes it easier to walk between the rows.
- This method works wonderfully if your soil is very rocky, difficult to till and you have access to some topsoil or loam, but don't want to spend the money to build a "box" container.
- Because the mounds are raised, they hold heat longer and work wonderful in areas with a shorter growing season.
Fourth *Optional Step* - Weed Free Garden
Now, this step is entirely optional, However, I choose to do it because I have a very busy family and 2 businesses to run. You can make your garden virtually weed free by adding a breathable black plastic over the mounds (or landscaping/weed cloth). When you get ready to plant, simply cut a small 'X' in the cloth, scoop out the dirt and add your plant.
Then, add wheat straw or old newspapers down the walking paths. This helps keep weeds down and also helps with water retention. Over the years I've seen people use all kinds of things such as old rug strips, tarps, pine needles, wood chips, etc. Just use what you have.
Last, but not least, Plant Away! I also do a fair bit of 'Companion Planting' to alleviate the need for pesticides and to increase growth. This year I planted the following:
- Tomatoes (3 different varieties- some for canning, some for slicing, and cherry tomatoes for munching.)
- Cukes- 2 different kinds, some for salads/slicing, as well as pickling cucumbers
- Jalapeņo Peppers - for pickling and for making homemade poppers
- Cayenne Peppers - for making sauces, salsa's and homemade pepper spray
- Summer squash
- Butternut Squash
- Hubbard Squash
- Peas (2 kinds)
- Watermelon ( 3 different Varieties)
- Marigolds- planted throughout mainly to discourage pests such as rabbits.
I literally threw this garden together, completely by myself in a day & a half. If I can do it without any help, you can too! Now, with our work schedules (& the tendency to pack up on a minutes notice and leave for an extended road trip!), I decided to put the garden on a timer. The one I am using is by Orbit & is set to water twice a day for 45 minutes. The timer is available at walmart for $23. and runs on 2 'AA' batteries. (Which works out to be about 6 lbs of tomatoes at this seasons current price!).
It works like a charm and now I can leave for several days without having to worry about whether the garden is drying out, or being overrun with weeds.
As the season progresses, I'll add additional photos! Happy Gardening