What to do to improve garden beds?

xxnonamexxAugust 3, 2014

Here is a photo of my garden beds. Behind the beds is where the sun rises. This fall I would like to revamp my garden and have the beds horizontal --- instead of vertical :: with the sun. Do you think this would help or make a difference? My point in changing this is to allow the back of the beds get more sun light instead of the front plants shading them out. In the back beds are celery, zucchini, mid of the beds peppers tomatoes, leeks, and front are cucumbers, string beans, basil, parsley. The beds need an overhaul due to the wood rotting so I want to redo the fence as well and see what needs to be changed. Thanks

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defrost49

My beds are oriented east to west but the vegetable rows in the beds are planted north to south. Gee, this is confusing because I plant pretty densely. There is no space between the rows of potatoes, for example. But a fence of sugar snap peas has the fence going north to south which probably ends up making some shade on the rows of other things planted to the east and west.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 4:14PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Could you explain further about how much sun this garden receives and if the sun comes up behind the bed, which would be East, then does the garden continue to get sun all day? Is the garden remaining the same size?

So if I understand what I think I am looking at, your beds are going East to West and you're wondering if you should place them North to South?

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 4:17PM
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xxnonamexx

The sun rises behind the beds and about mid morning 10-11am get full sun until 7-8 pm at night (sunset). Correct my beds are east to west now but I was wondering making them North to east they will be spread out more?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 6:46AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I've used both North/South and East/West oriented beds. I have an East/West bed on the north side of the vegetable garden, where I grow tall plants like tomatoes [or you could do trellised beans/peas/cukes/squashes, anything like that] And then I have three more East/West beds going from north to south in the garden space, but shorter beds, that allow for one bed that is North to South on the west side of the garden, where again, I grow tall trellised beans/peas/cukes. The remainder of the east/west beds, have squashes, peppers, brassicas, lettuces, etc. So they are not shading each other.

The reason I put the North/South bed on the West side of the garden, is because I have neighbor's trees to the West and the sun shades the beds on the west side early anyway. So the tall crops are not shading the rest of the beds at that point. In your case, you might do better with a north/south bed on the East side, since that is the side that has shade in the morning. By the time the sun is hitting your garden, the sun is almost overhead already and moving to the West, so tall crops on the East side would have no chance of shading the other beds.

I hope that was not a confusing explanation. If it was, I could find a photo of the layout for you.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 7:04AM
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xxnonamexx

i would love to see a photo layout.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 6:23PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

In the photo, north would be to the right of the garden and west would be facing you.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 6:31PM
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tdscpa(z5 NWKS)

I don't think it will make a noticeable difference. In most of the growing season, the plants will get enough sunlight whether the noon-day sun shines across the rows or down the rows. Early and late sun will help compensate for the difference in mid-day sun.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 1:41AM
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xxnonamexx

This is the sky above garden nothing blocking

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 10:29AM
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xxnonamexx

the trees are far left of my garden the open sky is above my garden

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 10:31AM
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xxnonamexx

here is the right side

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 10:33AM
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xxnonamexx

left side

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 10:34AM
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xxnonamexx

This is shot at 7am. What do you have in between the beds where you walk on? Is that mulch? I am thinking of putting gravel to stop the weeds while I walk to access my garden. I love the trellis you built on your beds. I think I need to do something similar to make it easier for the cuces and beans to travel and grow. I have the wire cages for the growing cuces and beans but I like the setup you have or the wooden ones at home depot etc that make it look nice and not have things growing all over. What wood do you have for the beds? I was thinking of something that won't rot. It appears that there is no difference in the bed setups N to S W to E so I think I will leave it same setup just redo the fencing, the wood, path and add trellises at the ends. The downfall of mine is the back of the beds hit up against the bottom of the hill which allows weeds to grow into and cause headaches. I hope to have this rectified in the fall for spring growing season.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 10:42AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

What a lovely backyard you have! :-) I love all those trees that are apparently far enough from your vegetable garden to allow a lot more sun than I have, which should be great for you.

We laid down landscape fabric on the pathways, covered with shredded bark. Our old vegetable garden had the same arrangement on the pathways and there was very little weeding around the edges of the beds, once in awhile. Haven't had to weed these new pathways once all summer.

Our son built the trellises with cattle panels and those plastic ties. We used older bamboo poles that we already had that were about 9ft tall. Each panel worked out to be about 7ft x 7ft. The cattle panels came in a 16ft by 50 inch size. We cut those in half and then put one on top of the other for the final size, which were held together with the plastic ties. The tomato trellis we wanted to be a little stronger and we had left over 4x4 hemlock wood that he ran through the saw to make the wooden supports for that. They have worked out great this year. Very sturdy so far. I wish I had done this years ago. String beans and cucumbers are now all the way to the top of the trellises.

We used Eastern Hemlock rough sawn, which was less expensive than Cedar. Our old beds were made of pine which supposedly should get you 5yrs, but ours lasted 8yrs before we replaced it. Cedar is supposed to last you 15yrs, but the cost was out of sight. The Hemlock is supposed to last 8-10yrs. And it was about 1/3 the cost of the Cedar. We were actually looking for cedar and called many lumber yards trying to find something we could afford and only one lumber yard offered us this Hemlock as a substitute. We are very happy with it.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 1:40PM
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xxnonamexx

Thanks I would have to see what Home Depot offers and decide what wood is best. I don't want it to rot. If anything pressure treated or I will stain the wood before it goes in. The pathway I think will be with gravel to eliminate the weeds as mulch I have headaches when blowing grass etc.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 3:50PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Gravel is certainly another option. I like the look of pea gravel. I just like to kneel on something softer. [g] Pressure treated wood I don't believe is recommended for vegetable beds because of the chemicals that can leach into the soil. Same for staining the wood, unless you just stain the outside, which probably won't help much. We are leaving our wood without stain to weather naturally and we'll get as long as we get from it.

I tried using cement blocks once, thinking it would last a long time, but, I didn't like the way the plants grew in it. I think the soil became too hot and something was leaching from the cement into the beds, so I finally dismantled it.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 6:29PM
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