Trying New Things in the Garden

| 6/8/2016 4:35:00 PM

Tags: gardening, raised beds, potatoes, beans, square foot, expanding the garden, Allan Douglas,

Of Mice and Mountain MenSix years ago I tried something new: gardening.

As a youngster I had been slave labor in my Dad's garden, but I didn't learn anything from that except “THOSE are not weeds, THOSE are my plants!” When I decided to try gardening for myself, I knew very little about it. Six years later I'm still trying new things.

My very first garden was a very small patch (6 feet by 12 feet) next to our storage shed: the only almost flat spot on our property. That went okay, so I expanded the following year … and ran into trouble. Planting on a slope means all the dirt I tilled up, amended, and planted washed down the slope and is gone.

Starter garden

So I tried something new: raised beds. Four foot by four foot boxes eight inches deep, dug into the slopes to level them up. I started with a half dozen boxes in the up-slope end of the garden and a tilled patch below for things like corn and potatoes, which I didn't think would grow well in boxes. The boxes broke up the flow of water rolling down the “lawn” and would help keep the tilled soil in place … or that was my theory. It didn't work that way, so the next year I built more boxes.

Square Foot Garden

Originally I went with the Square Foot Gardening Method because the idea of maximizing my crop for space consumed and never having to weed appealed to me. These claims were – misleading. Weeds are perfectly happy to grow underneath other plants, and being underneath other, closely packed, plants makes them harder to spot and harder still to pull without damaging their hiding places. Cramming lots of plants into a small space means using fertilizer to keep the mass of vegetation growing. Lots of fertilizer. And having many plants crammed into a small space greatly promotes disease like leaf blight, especially in a damp environment like The Great Smoky Mountains.

6/10/2016 3:52:05 PM

Charlotte, German Butterballs are one indeterminate type. So the Butterballs will grow in a tower better than Yukons.

6/10/2016 9:53:14 AM

I learned about determinate vs indeterminate tomatoes last year, I didn't realize potatoes also had that distinction. Which potatoes are determinate and which are indeterminate?

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on modern homesteading, animal husbandry, gardening, real food and more!