Yes, we are here!

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we have been educating folks about the benefits of self-reliance for 50 years. That includes researching and sourcing the best books and products to help individuals master the skills they need in times like these and beyond. Our online store is open and we are here to answer any questions you might have. Our customer service staff is available Monday through Friday from 8a.m.-5p.m. CDT. We can be reached at 1-800-234-3368 or by email. Stay safe!




An Instant Garden for Anyone

Hate to wait? Start a new garden with this instant garden plan and reap the benefits faster.

| April/May 2008

  • Picket Fence
    With this proven and easy plan, anyone can create a beautiful garden. The white picket fence and pretty arbor help the garden match the owner’s white, clapboard house.
    Photo by Lee Reich
  • Easy Garden
    The first step in this instant garden plan is to kill the existing grass by covering it with overlapping wet newspaper.
    Photo by Lee Reich
  • Easy Garden
    Then build a fence and arbor to keep out critters.
    Photo by Lee Reich
  • Instant Garden
    The second step is to add permanent garden paths and beds to avoid soil compaction and the need for tilling.
    Photo by Lee Reich
  • Easy Garden 3
    Next add compost to the beds.
    Photo by Lee Reich
  • Instant Garden
    Plant transplants in the compost for an instant garden.
    Photo by Lee Reich
  • Drip Irrigation
    Drip irrigation allows you to water plants directly, without including neighboring weeds.
    Photo by Lee Reich
  • Compost 2
    Bulk compost is cheaper and generally better than you can buy in plastic bags. But it’s important to do a little homework before buying, which will help ensure that you get high-quality compost.
    Photo by Lee Reich

  • Picket Fence
  • Easy Garden
  • Easy Garden
  • Instant Garden
  • Easy Garden 3
  • Instant Garden
  • Drip Irrigation
  • Compost 2

My brother Andrew and his family have a true passion for fresh vegetables, especially salad vegetables. So when they moved to their new suburban home in Barrington, R.I., about a decade ago, Andrew’s first question was, “Where do I put a vegetable garden?”

Enter me, the garden expert of the family. With 30 years of gardening and agriculture research, as well as a few gardening books under my belt, I’m the one who gets called when there’s a question about which tomato variety is good to grow (‘Belgian Giant’ is my all-time favorite), or how to prevent weed problems (read my book, Weedless Gardening). So it was natural that I would sit down with Andrew to help create his new garden.

The sunniest area of Andrew’s mostly shaded yard was right outside his front door — not the usual place for a vegetable garden in the ’burbs. His blacktop driveway wound around a 25-foot wide circle of lawn before heading straight back out to the street through a grove of shade trees. I suggested that this patch of lawn was the perfect location for his instant garden.

I also proposed beginning the garden in an unconventional way — one that I assured Andrew would be quick and easy, and prevent future weed problems. It’s a strategy I’ve used with great success in my own garden. The crux of the system is to emulate Mother Nature, with light mulching and minimal soil disturbance. This preserves the good soil structure generally found beneath lawns and meadows, doesn’t expose buried weed seeds to the light and air they need to sprout, and snuffs out seedlings from blown-in weed seeds. And here’s the best news: I did not tailor this system just for Andrew’s instant garden — it can be used just about anywhere.



Voila! Instant Garden

After laying out the boundaries of the 16-by-16-foot garden area, the first step was to kill the grass. The easiest way to do this is to cover the ground with a few layers of overlapped wet newspaper so no weed shoots can poke through. The newspaper smothers the grass, which dies and rots in place along with the newspaper itself. The first season, roots from vegetable plants will grow down into the ground through the wetted newspaper.

After the newspaper was in place, we laid out permanent paths and planting beds. Most gardens need to be tilled annually to loosen the soil and offset compaction from walking and rolling wheelbarrows or tractors over the ground. Establishing permanent paths and planting beds avoids compaction and makes tilling unnecessary. Another advantage of permanent beds is that seeds or transplants can be planted much closer together than in conventional gardens, which need enough space between each row to allow you to till, walk or hoe. For example, in a smaller design such as Andrew’s, four or five rows of carrots or three rows of lettuce can run shoulder to shoulder down one bed.

AndiBrown
3/10/2015 5:21:23 PM

Theresa, it is my understanding that modern newspaper inks are soy (vegetable)-based. The older inks were petrochemical-based. I would, however, avoid colored inks.


Theresa
1/9/2015 7:44:35 AM

I am concerned that using wetted newspaper to establish a new garden plot or as mulch will put toxic substances from the ink into the soil. Is this a possibility and concern? Please advise. Theresa






Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters


click me