After months of planning we are finally hard at work creating our new garden on ground that is totally not fit to till being primarily hard, white clay.
Originally the vegetable garden was to be rather small, barely 50′ x 50′, but has expanded to 75′ x 100′. In addition to the vegetable garden we are putting in a small orchard for apples, peaches, pear, fig and cherry trees. There is also a grape arbor being constructed.
Back to the garden…
Because the land is so poor we have put down a thick layer of wood chips upon which we set raised beds each measuring 10′ x 4′ x 10″ and a few that are 20″ deep for potatoes and sweet potatoes.
This is a method I’ve used in past years with great success. After a few years the cardboard and wood chips will have transformed into compost and new, rich soil.
The large tomato patch is made by adding t-post fencing in 20′ rows, adding deep mulch of wood chips, and topping it off with deep rows (raised beds) along each fence trellis.
Each row has tomato transplants placed about 30″ apart along one side, and companion plants along the opposite side of each trellis. In all there are 100+ tomato plants. The plants grow up, weaving their way in and out of the trellis. Covering the plants with wood chips helps keep the soil moist especially during drought periods.
We don’t consume a large amount of corn, but I do like to keep some in stock. I have sowed corn in one raised bed, to be followed in two week intervals with plantings into two more beds. Each bed supports 48 corn stalks.
When planning what you should raise in your garden you should keep in mind those vegetables which you eat most often. Once you have those established, you can experiment with new or different vegetables in any available garden space.
It may be tempting to sow a dozen cabbage, but if you seldom eat it, keep the number of plants to just a few. I have discovered that the best way for me to keep cabbage for the long term is to dehydrate it and store in vacuum sealed mason jars. We don’t eat sauerkraut, and don’t like the texture of frozen or pressure canned cabbage.
Some crops do well from early planting in trays inside a greenhouse or beneath grow lights, and provide early satisfaction in the garden. Most however do well directly seeded into the warmed earth.
I’ve direct seeded peas, onions, rutabaga, beets, cucumbers, bunching onions, and chard thus far. Still much more to plant and I will start more seeds in trays so they will be ready to replace plants that have reached/passed their peak production. Such as succession plantings of summer squash instead of being overwhelmed by zucchini or yellow squash all at one time.
It is better to have 4-6 plants of each producing a daily supply throughout the growing season, than to have 20 plants all producing during a brief a period with no way to best preserve the harvest.
The entire garden is covered with a 12″ layer of wood chips, the boxes are filled with compost and wonderful things are growing. As the plants get larger and the weather gets warmer and drier, I will add mulch to the beds which will hold moisture and prevent weeds.
Update to come ….