How I Made Narrow Beds And Simplified My Life

The hardest work in the "garden field" is arranging the plot, dividing it into beds, and digging them up in the fall. Loosening, planting, caring for and even watering (although this is also not easy work for the elderly) frighten gardeners less, because these works are more extended in time, and can give at least a short respite in the warm season. So how do you organize your dacha plot to keep it attractive, the vegetable garden clean, and the care work reduced? I advise to make narrow beds. In this material I will tell - how narrow beds save gardeners from a lot of labor, and share my experience of creating them.

How I made narrow beds and simplified my life
How I made narrow beds and simplified my life. © SILive

Why a big vegetable garden is not a big crop yet

Long years of gardening experience have shown that quantity of quality crops is not provided by a large area. The small area can be more carefully looked after plants, and therefore the yield from a bush and the area as a whole will be the biggest and with the best quality of fruits. Effort and time to care for the crop on a small plot is spent in 2-3 times less.

Multiple crop rotation (8-12 crops) with large areas of beds in old age is an unbearable work. I am 77 years old and have been using the narrow bed method in my vegetable garden for the past 15 years. It is very convenient and does not require money and excessive physical effort.

A simple way to create narrow beds

To change your traditional vegetable garden to a more progressive one, you must first measure the total area of the plot. Level the area allotted to the vegetable garden and divide it into narrow beds with wide paths. The width of the beds should be no more than 40-50 cm. Between the beds should be left wide paths - 80-120 cm. The length of beds is arbitrary and depends on the owner's desire. The beds are better directed from north to south. Such an arrangement will lengthen the light of the plants on the beds. All the grass and the remains of the garden plants (not affected by diseases) are dumped on the paths.

It is possible in 2-4 years narrow beds and paths to change places. In the middle of a wide path, allocate a narrow bed, and form wide paths from the spent beds and the sides of the paths. Over the years they will accumulate a sufficient layer of semi-decomposed mulch from weeds, haulm and stems of vegetable plants.

New narrow beds deeply by 8-10 cm loosen with hoes. Over the winter the soil plumps up, becomes airy, in the spring loosening repeat. Recapping is not necessary. If not all the work (for various reasons) was not carried out in time, and weeds have risen on beds and paths, they are mowed and left to decompose.

May narrow beds are not moved from place to place and then wide paths sow lawn grass: bluegrass, bluegrass and other grasses, resistant to trampling. They suppress common weeds, you get beds in green lawn grass.

Some owners cover paths with old sheets of plywood, Ruberoid, to reduce their overgrowth of weeds, and it was more convenient to work on the bed. In this case the removed weeds are left in between the rows on the bed.

If there is time and effort, beds can be fenced and raised above the ground. But this work requires time and materials. In addition, the plants grow better on free land without any fences.

How I made narrow beds and simplified my life
For certain crops from the fall narrow beds can be sown with green manure. Why are narrow seedbeds good?

The plants in such a bed have free access from both sides. It is easy to handle, loosen, plant. These works can be carried out sitting on the bench along the bed or moving across it when planting large planting material (potatoes, onions, zucchinis, peas, etc.)

Just one strict condition: you must not step on the bed in order not to compress the soil. All work is carried out from the wide paths between the beds. On the wide paths perform all auxiliary work using containers, carts, auxiliary tools, without touching the bed.

Planting crops on the bed in 2-3 rows no more, except small-seeded (chives, dill, radish, lettuce, etc.). On narrow beds, the inter-row rows are left as narrow as possible. With this planting, the expanding above-ground part of the vegetable plants will cover the empty soil faster.

For example, on narrow beds, the row spacing for early tomatoes is left 35x35 cm, and for high-growing, large bush - 40x40 and no more than 50x50 cm, for carrots - 5x5 cm. Between the rows of cucumbers do not exceed 20x20 cm. Weeds will die under the green mass of growing crops, and will not need frequent loosening to kill weeds. In addition, through the leaf surface of plants evaporates moisture 20-25 times less than from the open soil surface.

In winter time enough time to think about crop rotation (crop rotation) of your vegetable garden. The basic rule - in a bed the change of crops should go throughout the warm season. For example: if you do not need large harvests, you can split the bed into 2-3 parts. On one of them sow radishes of several maturity dates, and on the second one - spinach or salads, then - onions as an annual crop.

The radishes will occupy their part of the bed not more than 1-1.5 months. After its harvest, you can plant sprouts of early cabbage, early tomatoes, 40-day potatoes. After harvesting salads, the second half of the bed can be occupied by medium or medium early tomatoes, greens (dill, celery, parsley, basil), spring garlic.

For more information about crop rotation in the material "Five ways of crop rotation for a country site.

If the bed is planned to plant seedlings of tomatoes of medium and late terms, white cabbage, it is necessary from autumn or spring to sow this bed with sideratom, so it is not empty, becoming a polygon for weeds (see articles "What sideratom sow in autumn", "What sideratom sow in spring"). By the time the seedlings are planted, the green manure is mowed and used as mulch for the crops. All care of crops can be made leisurely, it is better - on the adapted bench.

How I made narrow beds and simplified my life
If you have time and strength you can fence seedbeds and raise them above the ground. © Garden Inspiration

Crop care in narrow beds

Loosening

Sitting on a bench, it is easy to reach the row of plants in the bed on one side and the other, loosen the soil, and kill weeds. It is better to leave weeds in between the rows of the crop, but if there are still many and they are overgrown (in the early years this is the case), the weed plants to be destroyed are dumped on the path. The layer of weeds will spring under your feet, which will reduce the stress on the soil. It won't get trampled as much. The weeds will decompose and form mulch, which will be very useful in the future. If weeds have risen in the paths as well, they can easily be killed by surface loosening.

Mulching

Tight beds are easy to mulch. As mulch use the same weeds (they are laid in between the rows), straw, sawdust (except conifers) and wood shavings, green mass of cut ciderati.

Weeds do not germinate through 7-10 cm layer of mulch (not less, otherwise mulch does not work), die, as do some pests, including the Colorado beetle (the number of treatments against it is reduced). In addition, siderati their root system will loosen the soil, it will not need to dig over and at the same time they will serve as green fertilizer for the main crop.

The constant employment of the site will not require high costs for constant weed control. Mulching will prevent fruits of vegetable crops close to the ground from contamination by soil (tomatoes, zucchini, strawberries, etc.) and lesions of fungal infections (phytophthora, rotting). By decomposing, mulch replenishes the soil with organic matter, which will increase soil fertility and improve its structure.

If the plot is heavily clogged, some weeds can be removed before the beginning of spring works without much effort. It is only necessary to provoke their faster sprouting. In the spring, spread peat, ash, humus on the vegetable garden in the snow and cover it with transparent film. The sun's rays are attracted by the dark surface, the ground under the film warms up faster and the weeds begin to sprout. After 1,5-2,0 weeks, the soil on beds and paths loosened, destroying weeds.

If the bed is scheduled to plant late crops, the provocation technique is repeated. Simply bare soil again fluffed by surface loosening (recapping soil is not necessary).

Tiny ridges, especially strawberry or under perennials, it is convenient to mulch a covering material that does not let the light in, but lets the moisture.

If weeds were not removed from the paths in time, they are cut to the root and used to mulch vegetable crops on the beds.

How I made narrow beds and simplified my life
It is easy to organize drip irrigation on narrow beds. © Wild Gourd Farm

Plant watering

With sufficient May rains and plenty of timely soil mulching, you can reduce some watering by increasing the watering interval. Moisture is well retained under the mulch, does not allow the soil to form a dry crust, which often harms the delicate stems of plants.

It is easy to arrange drip irrigation on narrow ridges. From the main hose that runs along the vegetable garden, a hose with holes is laid on each narrow bed. The smaller the diameter of the holes, the more often they are located. The main hose is attached to the faucet.

Dear readers! Remember that the transition to narrow beds will not automatically free the garden from weeds in one year, but it will help reduce the labor costs for processing the site and allow you to get a fairly high yield of vegetables without physical overstrain.

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