As each day passes we find ourselves more and more amazed at just much our tiny market garden has evolved over the past few years. This year we’ve added our last growing beds and the gardens are the sizes they will remain. We don’t plan to add anymore except for one area dedicated strictly to bees and other pollinators (sunflowers, wildflowers, and such). We have continuously worked toward a no-till market garden and this year, after laying out the bee’s bed and establishing paths this fall, we plan to no longer need our humongous roto-tiller. That thing completely pulverizes our soil and we will be ever so happy to see it go.
The final garden layout includes 46 growing beds plus a small orchard for blueberries, apples, and plums. Fourty of our beds are 3’x40′ and six are 3’x50′, seven of the beds are permanently trellised for growing cucumber, sugar peas, and pole beans on, and there are two foot paths between every bed. Two feet wide paths can sound like a lot of wasted space but we have tried a closer spacing of our beds and the plants grow so far into the paths that even walking between beds is very difficult. In our summer’s high humidity the plants seem to thrive better with the extra distance, and two foot paths allow for the wheelbarrow and wagon to move without ripping the plant’s leaves or crushing stems. We are really happy with this layout. There is still plenty of area for the sunflower bed, a couple of small greenhouses, fig trees, composting areas, and a washing/packing/storage space add-on.
The weeds are as manageable as they will ever be in our beds. But those native summer-time grasses growing in the open space within the paths are a true pain in the rear end. I hope to conquer this with thick mulches of sawdust, pine straw, dried leaves, etc., etc. Anything in the paths to restrict the grass’ growth will be good. Way too may hours have been spent on hands and knees pulling grass from the paths. Attention needs to be on the growing beds, not the paths.
This year the focus on building and maintaining good compost is receiving more attention. We find it easy to throw a bunch of waste and “junk” into a pile, however, we have learned that it is an entirely different process when trying to reach suggested nitrogen/carbon ratio, maintain the right moisture, and heat it to a specific temperature for a certain length of time, etc., etc. There may never be any of it exactly right but the pile is getting a little brown stuff thrown in with the green stuff. Our compost should be just right for next spring’s plantings.
Market gardening changes with the seasons ~ literally ~ and every day is an amazing and sometimes exhausting adventure. A lot of the time we’re just amazed that we do it at all. 😉 And even though we have come so far, there is still a long row to hoe just waiting for us. This life is good.