Two Tips to a Great Vegetable Garden

Rather than planting your garden in traditional rows, many experts
recommend planting crops in wide permanent beds. By using the same
areas for beds and paths each year, you can save on fertilizer and
tilling time. Plus, you’ll be able to keep soil loose more easily
than if you use new rows each year, with some rows ending up in
areas where soil is compacted from having been a path the year
before.

The permanent beds can be raised (to improve drainage and warm up
faster in spring), or they can be slightly sunken (to conserve
moisture and protect seedlings in dry, windy climates). You can
frame them with wood, bricks or logs, or leave them unframed. The
important point is to designate the beds and paths and follow the
same pattern from year to year.

When sowing seeds in the garden, it can be difficult not to
crowd your future edible plants. That’s the reason most of us spend
a great deal of time thinning seedlings each spring. It’s also the
reason that those of us who can’t find the time to do the thinning
end up having tightly spaced plants that look a mess and don’t have
enough room to grow.

When sowing your seeds into wide beds, here’s a tip that
will help you space seeds evenly, reduce the time you spend
thinning young plants and make it easier to spot weeds:

Lay a piece of chicken wire over the bed as a guide. The hexagonal
openings in the wire are spaced on either one inch or two inch
centers, and your seed packet will tell you how far apart seeds of
each crop should be spaced.

The loose, fertile soil in your permanent beds and your chicken
wire sowing guide will put you well on your way to having the
best-looking garden in the neighborhood. To read more about making
great garden beds, see

Build Permanent Beds and Paths
in the April/May 2003 issue.