Managing my space

stuffradioMay 3, 2012

I have a new way of thinking. I have a 50x90 area I am going to use for vegetables. I have 140ish or more seedlings already started waiting to be transplanted within the next month.

It's going to be laborious for me to convert the whole area into nice workable soil for now, because it's not the best soil for working. So my plan, is to break it up into 3 foot by 10 foot rows, and spend about an hour every one or two days working on the 10 foot row. After I do the 10 foot row, I can either dedicate it to my transplants, or direct seed my Beets, Carrots, lettuce, etc.

What are your thoughts on this methodology? I have compost, but it's not done yet. When it's done, I'll throw it on to one of the beds. I'll keep doing that all the time, but my compost is very slow to cook in one of those store bought tumblers.

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dowlinggram

I think you either need a smaller garden or you need a tiller. We have a 75' by 75' garden and my husband could never get it ready for planting without the tiller. He also takes the 2 outside tines off and tills between the rows a couple of times when the plants are small to keep weeds from growing. By my figures it would take you all summer to do it the way you are thinking of doing it.

I would concentrate on doing half the garden and gradually over the years enlarge it. I would also buy some compost. The soil is the heart of any garden. Without good soil you will have a dismal garden.

Do you have the right mix in your compost. You need half green-veggie and fruit scraps, grass clippings and anything green that has just been growing half brown--shredded paper, fallen leaves etc. and manure or compost excellerator to put in the bacteria that breaks things down.

Leaf mold is also good for the garden. In the fall run the mower over your leaves to break them up and then pile them on the garden

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 3:11AM
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leira(6 MA)

Remember that converting your not-very-good soil into a workable soil will involve adding amendments in the form of organic matter, not just physically breaking it up or turning it with a shovel. If your own compost isn't ready, maybe you could purchase something to get you started. You might be able to find commercial compost, or composted manure, or something. Don't use un-composted manure so close to planting time unless it's rabbit (and some will disagree with this statement, too!).

As others have said, this *is* a large bed, but I think you're right to just dig in (so to speak!) and get going on it. When I finally take a deep breath and go out there and *do* something, I'm always surprised at how much I get done in a small time. Spending a little time every day will get you far.

I'll also toss in that gardening in rows isn't the only way to do it when you're gardening in the ground. My own garden is laid out more like the style of a raised bed system, with strategically placed paths, and wider sections that I amend heavily and never walk on. You should be able to do 4-foot "rows" with this model (you'll be able to reach in 2 feet from either side), and get a bit more usable space...though I'm not sure you need more! You should get out some paper and make some sketches, and find a layout that suits you....but of course you can start digging right away.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 7:41AM
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chas045(7b)

leira suggested raised beds. I was sort of assuming that you meant 'beds' and not 'rows' anyway. In either case, I think your general idea is fine. The 3' wide patches are a reasonable idea. I assume you thought of the 10' length to give you the feeling of completion. I guess that is fine but the length could be longer and you still only need to do 10' or so at a time. At least in some sections you would be able to step over the 3' width anyway.

You need a LARGE supply of amendment. I guess I would buy a few bags of compost etc for this season and then try to find a large source of bulk material to be delivered by the dump truck load, or more painfully, by the pickup load, for next year. With pickup, you MAY have to load it up yourself, and you WILL have to unload it yourself with shovel and rake. The dump truck route is more convenient and likely cheaper if you are having to pay for the material. Unfortunately, with gas prices so high, the delivery charge will be painful. If you are suburban, a tree service might be happy to dump some for you to save them a trip to the dump.

Unfortunately, that compost tumbler is almost useless for your garden size.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 9:02AM
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leira(6 MA)

I wasn't suggesting raised beds! I was suggesting laying out the in-ground plot in the same manner. I think this is called "wide bed culture" or something like that...apparently there is a name for it.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 9:48AM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I think soil building is a process and I expect it to take time. I knew I needed/wanted a large garden so over time I have built it. I have added as much compost as my budget would allow and have broken up the soil with shovel and pick one bed at a time. It was laborious, I was sore and it was not the most fun I have ever had but it is what I could do with the resources available to me (to rent a rototiller would have meant having less money for compost). I do not expect exceptional results in the beginning because I know that it will take time for the soil to build it's balance. That is okay because it is reality so I think your idea will work fine as long as you keep in mind that this year may not be great but eventually, the garden will be wonderful as your soil food web has established itself.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 11:29AM
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stuffradio

Yeah, thanks for the replies so far. By the beginning or middle of summer, I will or can rototill. The area leading up to the plot is too wet for the tractor to drive over. I don't want to wait until Summer to do it. I have lots of stuff I want growing before then. :)

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 11:36AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Yes, I think you're right about it being call wide bed culture, leira. And I basically work my garden the way you're talking about, SR. It's one way of breaking up a daunting task into managable pieces and getting it done. I have rows that are 3 x 42 and I usually get them done by focusing on just one row, removing weeds and planting and mulching. Some tasks I will do a larger area in one go, like tilling in cover crop or spreading lime. Sometimes with a bigger plot I find it helps to not be a perfectionist... Plants will grow in less than optimal conditions, but they won't grow if you don't get them in the ground! This seems especially true when you are first establishing a piece of ground as a garden. Cheers!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 11:41AM
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chas045(7b)

leira, my fault for poor nomenclature. What I USED to do was called 'double dug' which raised the beds directly in the ground. In that case the lower section was just loosened in place but the upper layer was moved around to get to the lower layer and then replaced. Piling stuff up and mixing in is similar and again raises the bed. I was thinking that both of these were also called raised beds.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 9:57PM
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