I started by laying cardboard down on top of the grass where I wanted my garden. Then I threw all kinds of leaves, grass clippings etc. on top. After a few months, I cut holes in the cardboard, dug a hole and planted a plant with some good compost (spread the poor soil over the compost on the cardboard). The first year I didn’t attempt planting seeds.
(NOTE: You don’t have to PURCHASE a tiller!)
Thereafter I just kept adding leaves, paper, and cardboard to keep the weeds out. We don’t have trash pickup so all paper products, boxes, etc. go to the garden. This is a great way to get rid of juWhy put compostables in the landfill?
My compost pile is constantly moving. When I need space to plant, I shove it over. Or plant in it! Cover with grass clippings if you don’t want to see carrot peelings and such. If a weed comes through, I pull it and throw it on top of the compost/mulch. If it has seed heads, it goes to our free-range chickens.
I use a deep composting method in my chicken coop (all free, I’ll mention that later) so I drop composted chicken manure near the base of the plants for extra fertilizer.
The first year I didn’t garden at all in the winter (I am able to garden nearly year round in our mild climate). I simply lay cardboard down so it would be easy to plant (no weeds) in the spring. Then I pulled it aside to my paths. I kept the boxes from blowing around by weighing them down with uncomposted cow manure or chicken manure (whatever you have on hand). You don’t want to put uncomposted manure on plants, it will “burn” them.
This reminds me why I don’t like raised beds in boxes–it’s a pain to pull the weeds at the outside and inside edges of the boxes. I can easily put newspaper to the edge of what is growing. Plus, I’m too cheap and lazy to build boxes. And too impatient:)
I started with rows, but have now made wide beds that the middle can be reached from each side easily. When I plant spinach for instance, I fill the entire bed for a foot or so in the bed, then put something else next to it. You might say my rows look striped. I try to confuse the bugs. It is far easier for them to traverse a straight row of something they love to eat. They get confused if they have to jump over garlic, say to get to something they love.
I use all manner of boxes for my paths. Just stick your thumb on the seam of a cereal box and you will split it. I put the colored side up on the paths–last longer.
I sprinkle egg shells around my tender seedlings to protect them from slugs and cutworms. I dump my coffee grounds around the base of the plants once they are strong and this fertilizes them and keeps the weeds down at the base where it’s hard to pull weeds.
(NOTE: You don’t have to PURCHASE good fertilizer!)
The first year I started with easy things to grow: beans, squash, garlic. At the beginning I was not strong enough to dig the holes–I had to rely on my DH! Now the soil is very workable and almost black.
(NOTE: You don’t have to PURCHASE good soil!)
When planting, I look for a big weed that needs to be pulled. I just plant in that hole. A twofer! When you plant intensively, the good plants crowd out the bad weeds. You don’t want ANY exposed soil. So plant lettuce between your cabbages and broccoli in the spring. Until cabbage and broccoli gets big (and it gets too hot for lettuce) your lettuce will be something to eat while keeping that space from getting weedy. By the time it’s too hot for lettuce, the cabbage and broccoli leaves have filled in the space.
Announcement of soon-to-come-post: You don’t have to purchase seeds! Tune in next time…..