Planning Your 2019 Garden Now is the time to make spring garden plans

A gazillion words and post have been published about the benefits of raised bed gardening and square foot gardens.

In truth raised beds may not be your best choice. Raised beds are generally best suited to cooler and wetter climates than weather conditions found in Americas West and Southwest.

Pros of Raised Bed Gardening:
More control over the location of the garden
Ability to choose the best soil for your particular plants
More efficient draining
Can be easier on backs and knees due to less bending and stooping
May be helpful keeping weeds out of your garden space
The soil warms up earlier in a raised bed, so you can plant earlier and extend your growing season
May work better keeping ground dwelling pests out of your garden plot

Cons of Raised-Bed Gardening:
Will be more expensive to get started
Requires careful planning to make sure there is enough room for plants that need to spread out, and to ensure that you can reach the middle to tend the plants
*** Because raised beds drain so efficiently, they will also need to be watered more often and may require an irrigation system
In the west and southwest water is a valuable, often scarce resource. Areas with little natural rain fall, daily temperatures at or above 90 degrees and humidity levels often dropping to 10% or 20%, tap water is an expensive way to water your garden.

Raised bed planting has the disadvantages of more frequent watering during dry periods and the cost of filling your beds with large quantities of compost, soil-less growing medium and may require more frequent use of commercially made or organic fertilizers.
Root vegetables, think potatoes and carrots that penetrate more than 3 or 4 inches deep into the soil where they are planted may suffer in raised bed plantings.

Amending garden soil by digging in or tilling in large amounts of compost and planting directly in the amended soil very well may be a better choice over raised beds. You will over time develop a quality garden soil that holds moisture. Couple this with extensive use of mulch water needs will be greatly reduced and over heated soil temperatures can be moderated.
* This years mulch will be tilled into the soil as an amendment for next years garden.

Practically Free Raised Beds by Will Atkinson

I saw a great post about salvaging and recycling wood fence to construct raised beds. Many wood fences are made from cedar and are naturally insect and rot resistant. Practically Free Raised Beds After building your first recycled wood fence raised bed is a good time to consider a square foot garden. If used to it’s maximum advantage, you can grow a lot of food using only a few square feet of garden space.


Build A Dibble Board
If your one of those that want and insist that every plant be perfectly spaced. This little gadget may be just what you have been looking for.

Build A Dibble Board Check out ‘gardeninggrrl’ blog for a lot of pictures and building instructions.

Keep in mind you may need two or even three of every dibble board. Most garden seeds need to be planted 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch or 1 inch deep. Seed planted 1 inch deep that ‘should have been planted 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep may never break through to see the light of day. In this event you have wasted your time, water and seed.

My dibble board consist of placing my seed on the ground at my desired spacing, using my finger to press the seed into the soil to the proper planting depth, cover my finger dibble hole with soil, then wait for them to germinate.

furrow planting

Farmers over the last 8,000 years have devised main 3 planting methods to maximize water usage and fertilizer to produce the most vegetables at the lowest cost on the least amount of land.

Furrow planting is common in areas with enough rain to produce a crop but with the need to conserve as much soil moisture as possible.

bed planting

bed planting

Bed planting provides additional root zone drainage as well as providing a reservoir to hold moisture near the plants root zone for a longer period of time after irrigation or rains.
Bed planting act much like raised bed planting without the cost of constructing bed boxes and filling raised beds with soil/soil mixes.

Minimum till planting is a method that has been used for thousands of years and in the past 25 years has been rediscovered by farmers in the USA and the UK as well as many other more developed countries. In minimum till planting, last years crop stubble is left in the field to prevent or minimize soil erosion from winds and heavy rain water run off and reduces soil drying by providing ground cover {mulch}.
At planting time, seeds are planted on flat ground without removing old crop stubble.

What gardening method is best for you? That is a decision that only you can decide. Using raised beds, furrow planting, bed planting or minimum till planting is mostly {for home gardeners} a personal choice dictated by ‘your’ garden plots size, location and amount of time and effort you are willing and able to put into your home garden.

No matter what method you choose, keep an open mind and consider other gardening methods if the way you are doing it now fails to produce as much as you feel that it can and should be producing.
The old worn out, I have always done it this way is not an acceptable answer to resolving a gardening problem.

Not from the USA Please leave me comment about your home town and country.

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Why is Common Sense so Uncommon?

9 responses to “Planning Your 2019 Garden Now is the time to make spring garden plans

  1. I have been following the Back to Eden gardening principles for the last 5 years now and have had tremendous success! I think it is on you tube, otherwise, google it. It is/was free to watch online, costs of you buy a CD. I never till in amendments, it just goes on top. The compost I use is a mixture of cow manure and wood chips. I was never successful veggie gardening until I tried these principles. So thankful to God for giving wisdom to his children.


  2. Lots of great info here!
    I’ve got raised beds in Northern Illinois. It lengthens the seasons and I can keep my dogs off of them! 🐶


  3. It seems your green thumbs are itching, like mine. I can’t wait to get out and dig in soil. I am trying LED lights to grow seeds this year. It seems to work great so far. Great article with wonderful tips.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Living on the side of a mountain (not too bad of a slope, but a slope in any case) means that our “raised bed” are just another row of rocks to make at terrace with back-fill (on our trip to Peru this Fall, we learned that this is how the ancient Peruvian societies created farmable land on slopes). Also, we have ample supplies of organic matter, from cleaning our goat barn (hay and manure) and ditches along the dirt road (fallen leaves and silt). Years ago, we gave up on the back-breaking job of turning all this into the soil, for the easier “lasagna garden” layering technique. Seems to work for us. Happy winter planning. – Oscar
    P.S. what do you think about putting ashes on garden beds? We generate lots of ashes from our woodstove.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wood ash will help neutralize high acid soils. To much wood ash can be worse than having a high acid soil. Best to do a soil test before adding wood ash to your garden soil.
      DIY soil test:

      Ohio State University reports that wood ashes are 40 to 50 per cent as effective as calcium carbonate in acid-neutralizing equivalent, being about 45 per cent calcium carbonate. In other words, it takes about twice as much ash to do the job of lime.

      Wood ash is less than 10 percent is potash, and less than 1 percent phosphate; there are trace elements of iron, manganese, zinc, copper and some heavy metals. However, these numbers vary, as combustion temperature is an important variable in determining wood ash composition.
      Wood ash has a high char content, it can be used as an odor control agent, especially in composting operations.
      Good luck and happy gardening

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the research. Free wood ash costs less than purchase lime. I have been reaching about biochar recently too. Seems to have a number of beneficial properties to the structure of the char, as well as the chemical analysis. Happy Gardening.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Raised beds do stop people walking on crops! 4ft across is about the max, but as long as convenient. Useful with disabled gardeners, and good for planning rotations.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love the dibble board idea!! Thank you for sharing. Great advise. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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