Making a new garden bed can seem like a monumental, labor intensive task, but it doesn’t have to be. There are several minimal labor ways to make a new bed. My favorite begins with a hose and old newspaper and/or cardboard.
The best place to put a vegetable garden is close to the house where there is good sun, ideally a spot that gets southern exposure. Check out where the sun falls throughout a sunny day to see where the best locations are in your yard. Don’t be concerned if your garden spot gets some shade each day. Fruiting vegetables need the most sun, 6-8 hours.
Root vegetables require less and leafy vegetables require the least. Leafy vegetables appreciate getting afternoon shade in the hot days of summer. I have a spot on the northeast side of the house that I like to put leafy greens. It gets the morning sun, but the cool afternoon shade. This allows us to grow lettuce through the summer.
Once you have picked out a spot, you can use a hose to lay out what you want the bed to look like. We then use a spray can of landscaping paint to paint out the edges of the bed.
The easiest next step is to cut the grass inside your new bed as short as possible. Then lay several layers of newspaper or cardboard over the top of the closely sheared grass and cover with compost then mulch. Now, just let the bed lay until the grass dies. The grass and its roots adds organic matter to the soil as well. Test the soil before planting to see what nutrients you need to add. Use a balanced fertilizer when you plant.
Another option is after mowing close to the ground and laying the newspaper/cardboard, dump garden soil over it all, add compost, fertilize and plant immediately. Just be careful to not cut through the newspaper or you will get grass growing in your new garden bed.
We have also used a sod cutter, cutting up the sod in our new bed. Then, turning it upside down, covering with newspaper/cardboard, a couple of inches of compost, mulch, and plant. This is definitely more work, but you have less chance of having to pull stray grass if you want to plant immediately.
If you don’t need your garden bed to be “pretty”, a quick way to plant is to simply poke holes in bags of garden soil, put the perforated side down, cut open the top side of the bag and plant away. The plastic underneath will keep the grass from growing through. The downside is that your veggie plant roots won’t be able to grow down as well either. But if you don’t have time, this is a good way to get started. You can edge around the bags and removed them the following year, adding compost and have a ready made bed for the following year.
You can also go the raised bed route. There are many do it yourself, pre-cut raised bed kits that you can purchase. Use the same techniques above to make sure the grass won’t grow up through into your veggies. Newspaper and cardboard works great for this. Fill with good soil, compost, an all natural fertilizer and you are ready to plant.
The pros of raised beds is that they warm up quicker in the spring and you control the soil that you are growing in. The cons, the temperature is not as constant as if in the ground and they will need to be watered more often.
You can also opt to have your garden in pots. This is a great way to start small and quickly. It is amazing how many varieties of any veggie you love have been developed to grow in containers.
There are several options to getting your garden bed in place that don’t require a ton of time or hard labor. Now is the time to choose one and get your spring garden growing!
For more tips on gardening in small spaces and containers, visit Melodie's blog at www.VictoryOnTheGolfCourse.com
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