Gardening Outside the Box

| 4/26/2017 12:00:00 AM

Is your veggie garden trapped in a box? Do you have 4’x8’ raised beds all lined up on your lawn or perhaps the Peter Rabbit style garden with each vegetable laid out in its own row in a big rectangular plot? I can’t say these kinds of gardens are wrong, but I will encourage you to think outside the box.

While it’s true that raised beds are warmer than ground-level beds, the soil does not actually need to be held up by sides. You can simply have a pile of soil on the ground. When you keep your soil covered with mulch, it will hold together and will not wash away.

Making raised beds is expensive and time consuming. By cutting out this step, you can make more economical garden beds. 

When you take away the constraints of lumber dimensions, you can make beds any shape you want. Curved beds and wavy borders look more natural than straight sides. You can make “borders” of vegetables just like you would flowers. Keyhole gardens are circular gardens with a path into the center where you can tend the whole garden from one spot. An herb spiral is a garden that spirals up a mound, creating microclimates for herbs which prefer different types of conditions; wet, dry, shady, sunny.

Herb Spiral

Peter Rabbit gardens are modeled after farms, which generally use tractors to plant and cultivate so they need room for the tractor to drive between the rows. But you don’t have a tractor so why do you leave all the space between the rows? If you are walking in between the rows you are crushing the roots of your plants and making it difficult for soil life to proliferate.

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