Everybody loves the idea of having a vegetable garden in his or her own backyard. Growing fresh, organic, pesticide free, nutrient rich vegetables is very in right now. The problem is the high maintenance of building and maintaining the gardens. Rototilling, weeding, and dragging around the hose to water is too time-consuming for people today. I have had vegetable gardens in my backyard for the past 30 years and I’ll admit that it has been a challenge. Over the last three years, I’ve perfected a few techniques that I would like to share about backyard vegetable gardens.
Keeping up with the weeds was always the hardest thing. For many years I was doing the gardening pretty much myself. The delicious fresh vegetables always made the sweat and toil worth it and being in a garden, working in the soil is so therapeutic but, pulling weeds is for the birds. I knew there had to be a better way. Did I mention I despise pulling weeds?
My wife wasn’t totally on board; she really hates weeding too (Just in case she reads this, I better mention that she actually does most of the weeding now and does a great job). About 10 years ago she did some research on square foot gardening, and ended up taking over the planting, since she saw the value of fresh produce, having that full time partner to help has been great.
Our vegetable garden area is 16’ x 32’, while it’s not huge, it’s still big enough to take up the better part of a weekend in preparation and planting. To make our lives easier, we constructed five 10’ x 5’ boxes, 18 inches high. Each box was filled with a beautiful blend of planter’s mix, compost, cow manure, and peat moss. The beauty of this layout is you can plant one box in very early spring with your radishes, lettuce, spinach, peas etc. and a few weeks later, plant a second box. Then, once the threat of frost is past, you can plant the rest; tomatoes, corn, peppers, eggplant etc. Having the garden set up this way give us better control over the care of each group of vegetables. Once seedlings come up, I put some newspaper and grass clippings to keep the weeds from growing.
Another challenge in vegetable gardens is effective irrigation. Many veggies get mildew and disease if spray irrigation is used. As the plants get tall they block the flow to other areas of the garden and over saturate other areas. Also, my sprinkler lines always got cut by the rototiller. What we did to remedy this was to install a drip line that has drip holes every 6 inches. The lines can be moved around the box to focus on each row of seedlings and plants and when you till the garden it can be removed from the box. Each box has its own valve that controls its own irrigation. Now the boxes have subsurface irrigation, so mildew and disease won’t be present and by using individual valves, I can control the amount of water and I can water box by box, until all the boxes are planted.
These boxes are the way to go with your vegetable gardens. Our containers are actually 25% less square footage than what we used to have and we did over twice as much production! Also, weeding and maintenance is greatly reduced. So, while I didn’t invent container gardening, I’ve implemented it in my garden and we’ve built dozens for our clients.
If anyone would like to come over to my house and take it to her by doing please feel free. Or would be glad to build some in your yard. Happy gardening!