Roscoe Walker—a busy Atlanta, Georgia engineer—really knows his beans (and squash and corn and tomatoes) when it comes to growing a garden. For the past two years, in fact, Roscoe's vegetable patch has produced so prolifically that he's been forced to call in numerous friends and neighbors to help him harvest and freeze its bounty.
Of course, there's nothing really unusual about Mr. Walker's harvests. Most gardeners—even beginners—find themselves up to their elbows in tomatoes or squash or something by the end of each summer. What is unusual about Roscoe's success, however, is the fact that he does so well without cultivating the soil in his vegetable patch at all, and without doing any hard work! And what is Mr. Walker's secret? Actually, he has five tips for easy gardening.
And wonder upon wonders, when planting time rolls around in the spring . . . you should find your garden's soil ready to receive sets and seeds with nary a need, on your part, for the use of a plow or hoe. Why? Because earthworms—snug and well-fed under that protective blanket you put down months before—have been turning and digesting and enriching the covered dirt. They've been mixing bits of the humus and manure and newspapers into the soil too. In short, while you've been thinking of other things, these little "shoemaker's elves" have been hard at work for you.
So hard at work, in fact, that your spring planting should be the easiest you've ever experienced. "I just stretch a string where I want a row to go," says Roscoe. "Then, if I'm setting out started plants, I use a trowel to open a hole (large enough for each set's roots) right through what remains of the newspapers. When I'm putting in beans, peas, and other large seeds, I pierce the paper with a sharp stick every 4 inches and drop two seeds into each hole. And for very small seeds, such as turnip greens, I cut rows into the paper mulch with a shovel or knife and sow right through the cut."
And then Mr. Walker just sits back and lets Nature work her wonders. Thanks to the thick carpet of mulch on his garden, weeds seldom get the chance to make a good start among his vegetables. And, also thanks to the mulch (which holds moisture and keeps dry winds and the sun from getting at the garden's soil), droughts have little or no effect on his vegetable patch.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: A heavily mulched garden does indeed both hold more moisture longer and slay far cooler than an unmulched one. And this is the reason Mr. Walker emphasizes that his methods be used only can a sunny vegetable patch. Otherwise, the soil in the plot would be slow in warming up in the ,spring . . . and might stay just a little too cool and damp for best plant propagation throughout much of the summer.)
Roscoe Walker has two further tips for gardeners:
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