Tips on Starting a Veggie Garden

sheet mulched garden bedsOne of our students asked about reminders and tips on starting a garden, especially for beginners...

Remember to START SMALL...  you'll learn with experience!  

Here are some permaculture principles and things to keep in mind when designing your garden:



How to start a sheet mulch/lasagna garden bed - this is probably the easiest way!

How to double dig a garden bed - this is more work, but usually produces better results than sheet mulching.

An animated diagram on double digging:

How to start a straw bale garden (the photos show a wooden/raised bed structure around the bales, which is nice but not essential).


How to start seeds indoors:

How to direct sow seeds in the garden:

Happy gardening and hope you have fun!



The Deep Green Permaculture link talks about emulating nature. How does double digging emulate nature?  Nature does not turn the soil; nature sheet mulches. Dead plant material decomposes on the surface of the soil. Double digging is  pretty destructive since it exposes worms to dehydrating sunlight and destroys the soil biota. It would be better to use sheet mulch only to supress the plants that are there and deal with soil fertility and compaction problems by using a succession of green manure cover crops that build fertility and reduce compaction as they aerate the soil - an early spring crop such as peas which can handle cold and wet and establish before weeds begin, followed by buckwheat which also smothers weeds, followed by Daikon or tiller radish which are left in the soil to winter kill and decompose.  The peas are chopped and dropped before they flower in order to retain nitrogen in the roots. The buckwheat also is chopped and dropped just as it sets seed in order to avoid seed drop.  Allowing it to flower provides an insect nectary.  None of these cover crops involve turning the soil and each builds fertility and soil structure.  It is important not to have uncovered soil anywhere in the process since Nature will fill this vacuum with plants of her choice not the plants that you want.

Thanks for your comment.  I also prefer not to *turn* the soil.  The way I learned double digging, the soil is simply *loosened* and then replaced; the soil layers are kept intact and not mixed or churned.  And thanks for mentioning cover crops - a good reminder. 

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