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Types of Vegetable Gardening Styles

Updated on October 31, 2019
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Cygnet Brown currently lives in the Missouri Ozarks. She loves writing, researching history, and gardening.

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Numerous Vegetable Gardening Styles

Over the years I have come across numerous gardening styles. Although this is not an exhaustive list, here a few that I have used or are preparing to use.

Planting in Rows

When I was growing up, everyone I knew planted their garden in the traditional row style of gardening. It stems from the fact that farmers plant their monoculture plants in rows for easy machine planting, cultivation, fertilizing, and harvesting.

Many gardeners still plant this way and certain crops often do better using the single row method. Corn and tomatoes typically are planted in single rows, allowing the corn to pollinate easily and for tomatoes to spread upward and outward when staked.

Using Wide Rows

As I grew older, I found that I didn’t always have a lot of space to grow my gardens. Often I had a small area in which to plant so I started growing my garden plants in wide rows.

Wide rows work well for garden crops that I plan to harvest all at once, plants like green beans. I usually planted them two rows wide. This cut down on space because I was able to grow twice as many green beans in the same area. In addition, it made hand harvesting easier because I could straddle the rows as I was picking and could pick both rows at once. This saved me time.

Vertical Gardening

To save even more space in my small garden, I started growing my garden vertically. I found that I could utilize space by planting along a fence and I could also put up fences in the garden beds to grow tomatoes, pole beans, sweet peas, cucumbers, melons, vining squash, and even small pumpkins this way.

Mulched Rows

Mulching the vegetable rows is a real time saver. Once the garden rows are established, to avoid having to weed, throw some mulch materials between the rows and weeding becomes a thing of the past. These mulches hold nutrients and water and as they break down, the nutrients become available to the plant life.

No Dig Gardening

One of the early pioneers in the mulching movement was Ruth Stout. Ruth was a woman who learned that you could throw hay out onto a garden bed and plant directly into that hay and the plants would grow without the weeds, at least for that season. Often the hay had weed seeds in them and the following year, volunteer grass and weeds were a problem to the practitioner of this method.

Another form of the mulched rows is the Back to Eden Gardening method popularized by Paul Gautschi. His method is similar to the Ruth Stout Method in that in his method he uses wood chips laid on the garden instead of straw or hay.

The main difficulty in this method is that during the first couple of years, the wood chips lock up the nitrogen in the soil, so it is not released to the plants. After a couple years, this problem gets corrected by the soil biology.

A number of years ago I learned about raised beds from Square Foot Gardening a book by Mel Bartholomew. He combined several of the other methods and made it easier for people who wanted to grow more in a small garden. He showed that plants didn’t need to be grown in rows but could be grown in beds where everything could be grown by the square foot.

Lasagna gardening combines all of the above gardening styles and adds to it. The process involves laying down dampened cardboard or heavy paper on a garden bed and layering compostable materials in the form of yard wastes into a pile of about three feet deep. This process is done in the fall and then in the spring the gardener plants directly into that composted material.

Hügelkultur is a no dig gardening system that starts by burying logs under a garden bed so that over time the logs break down, holding nutrients and water in the soil under the plants.

Permaculture

All of the learning that I have come across from these other gardening systems have led me to permaculture.

Permaculture is not just a method but has become movement. It is a set of design principles centered on whole systems thinking, simulating, or directly utilizing the patterns and resilient features observed in natural ecosystems In permaculture, gardening becomes part of a bigger system that includes the usual annuals we consider in a garden, but also incorporates fruit and nut trees, perennial berries and vegetables from root crops to mature trees and vining plants. Even animals both domestic and wild are included within this system in which humans are no longer an adversary to the natural processes but becomes an ally.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Cygnet Brown

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    • cygnetbrown profile imageAUTHOR

      Cygnet Brown 

      21 months ago from Springfield, Missouri

      I live in the Ozarks! I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

    • cygnetbrown profile imageAUTHOR

      Cygnet Brown 

      21 months ago from Springfield, Missouri

      Me too!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      21 months ago from Beautiful South

      Hi, Cygnet, you've mentioned some styles here that I didn't realize existed. My husband built a raised bed a couple of years ago. Out of ignorance (because he was raised on a farm) he made the bed too wide, and we've lost the convenience of walking between narrow raised beds to harvest.

      My Ozark grandparents planted their garden in rows, not to make it convenient to get equipment through it, but so the mule could plow without trampling the vegetables. They did use tractors in the fields though.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I've done them all, but I prefer permaculture. :)

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