for the last 5 years or so we have had a layout of 4 foot wide beds and 2 foot walkways in the gardens. largely influenced by john jeavons how to grow more vegetables…. there have to be plenty of compromises in life, and the layout is largely influenced by the fact that the workforce i work with is largely volunteers and having them walk down 12 inch wide pathways is just a little too much to ask.
ma has been playing with different bed layouts and spacing, and this year decided upon 30 inch wide beds with 12 inch walkways between. while not as space efficient as say a 48 inch bed with 12 inch walkways, it does have some major advantages. the biggest one by far is the ease of working the beds – you can actually straddle them relatively easily making weeding and transplanting, while i wouldn’t say a joy, it is easier than having to work from the side of the bed. i’m not completely sold, but i’m going to give it a try.
the main reason for the change in layout is to try to figure out just how much profit i can make out of this little 3/4 acre garden – so that it can be an example for other so it can be replicated and other can create a small business. this layout seems like the most space efficient.
since many of the beds and all of the pathways have been planted in dutch white clover and i want to start everything a fresh, it means i need to kill the clover. i have some serious mixed feelings about this. i really like the idea of transplanting into a bed of perennial cover crop – and it does have some advantages. it helps increase nitrogen, helps keep down weeds, conserves moisture, and confuses pests. it also has some major disadvantages that took a couple of years to show up, namely harboring voles and slugs.
just because i’m not going to be planting into perennial cover crop doesn’t meaning i can’t use living mulches, i’ve had good luck using crops such as crimson clover and hairy vetch as annual living mulches. the biggest issue is they both grow rather tall and so you can only plant them with crops that grow relatively tall.
the first step was to till everything
or actually in this shot only the south side of the garden. i wanted you to see what i was tilling under. most of the time when i’m starting over like this or tilling new ground i till in both directions, first lengthwise and then width wise, but we ran out of time and only did it one way. you can see we left the broccoli in the middle.
next step is to cover with leaves.
this shot is from down on the ground, instead of the roof top. we put down i’d guess at least 6 inches of shredded leaves, i convinced one of the local municipalities to drop off several truck loads of leaves, so this didn’t even make a dent in the pile. it took 6 of us about 3 hours to get them all down.
on thursday i had a guy work for me and had him till the north side. he had enough time to go in both directions, east/west and north/south, so its extra well tilled. now it’s just a matter of getting the leaves put down. you can see where the garlic is right now, with the straw over top of it, on the north side of the garden.