Compact Gardens Two

Garden beds in Spring

More Compact Gardens

In my first article on Compact Gardening, I introduced you to Square Foot Gardening...a technique designed by Mel Bartholomew.

I have built a few of the 4'X4' beds in my yard, but have also incorporated several 2'X8' beds as well. The square footage still equals 16 feet, just in a different form. I am using one of these beds for strawberries, one for zucchinis, and the others for an assortment of root and low growing crops. I have three of them running North & South, while the others run East & West.

Between the combination of ten beds, I have a total of 160 square feet of garden space. The beds have at least a 30" path between them, and are laid out to make maximum use of the space they're in. There is also an area in amongst them that is at least 15'X15'...this area will soon accommodate a couple of benches and a birdbath. What better way to control the harmful insects in my garden than to encourage the birds to dine within.

The garden bed area will be bordered by grass...hopefully by the end of the summer. The paths between the raised beds will be covered with straw and/or grass clippings to keep the mud off of shoes when it rains. Some of the vegetables are already growing, and I can't wait to have fresh produce again straight out of the garden.

For easier manageability, I do not recommend beds bigger than 4'X8'...this size is still fairly easy to work in without stepping right inside the bed. The four foot square beds are perfect, as the crops can be reached from all angles. The eight foot long beds work nicely for crops like strawberries, cucumbers, pumpkins or melons...crops that need some room to roam.

I also have a bed approximately 2'X6', and it houses half a dozen tomato plants. I have made three hoops out of recycled 1" water line that may be covered in either plastic for a mini greenhouse, or an old sheet to keep the frost away (this worked until our pup decided it should be a chew toy). The narrower beds make it simpler to install hoops such as these as there is more support widthwise for them. If using plastic to cover the hoops, it can be easily stapled to the top edge of the garden bed. Or, it could be rolled onto a 2"X2" board, and rolled off for easy watering, weeding and harvesting. Note that the bigger the hoops are, the less sturdy they will be.

As summer progresses and I learn little tricks to make the compact garden almost maintenance free, I will keep you posted. There will always be weeding and watering requirements, but with this type of gardening, the requirements are minimal. Plus, with only a couple of hours maintenance once a week, this garden is perfect for those who travel frequently through the summer. It is also a great type of garden to have at the cabin, especially if you frequent it throughout the summer or live there. There is nothing quite like a fresh garden salad to go with the BBQ or the steaks cooked over an open fire.

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