Monday, April 12, 2010

The Technique

The 1st year, we dug holes, planted transplants, put Miracle Grow Organic in and mulched with grass clippings.

The 2nd year, I read The Square Foot Gardener and made 2 squares.  But it wasn't enough for my ambitions.  I expanded the original plot next to the clubhouse, added 2 30' rows for tomatos and eggplant and 3 20' rows for squash and zuccini.  And I added drip irrigation.  I'll go into more detail later.

The 3rd year, I created the main plot.  I added plastic mulch with drip irrigation under it.  More detail in another history post, but suffice to say, it worked well and was much less work then year 2 with lots more produced.

This year (4), I'm taking pictures and showing my work.  These are finished rows.  The plastic is 4' wide.  In between the rows are large scraps of cardboard I saved since christmas.  I cut them down to ~ 2' wide.  I like narrower walkways.

There is 1/2" line up one side of the garden.  For each row, I run 2 lines of 1/4" drip hose to the other end.  I'm using .5 gph every 6".

I have a 1/4" valve on each, in case I want to slow down a row, but I never used it last year.  I might want to stop watering a row that's done.

You can see the two lines going up the row.  I pile some dirt over them to keep them in place along the row.  I try to keep them apart a bit.

I mound the dirt up for the plants, taking dirt from between the rows.  You can see some of the cover crop that I missed turning under.  It's not going to grow alot under the plastic so I'm not real concerned about it.

I ran string on both sides of the mound.  The strings are a bit closer together then the width of the plastic.  You can see I've excavated the walkway flat between the row.
 I'll unroll along the cardboard on the left.  The plastic will be tucked under the cardboard.  Landscape stables will be put through the cardboard at intervals to keep the wind from blowing the plastic away.

Finally, some dirt will be put across the seam.

It's important to keep wind from getting under the plastic and/or cardboard.  It will rip the whole row away.

The staples alone won't hold the plastic down.

Last year, I made squares of cardboard for the staples and didn't overlap.  This new way should mean fewer staples and less work laying out.
Staple through cardboard with plastic underneath and dirt over the seam.

This will also keep weeds down and hopefully not provide a place for pests to hide.

Staples are cheaper by the box.
I've run out of cardboard.  I'm going to use 4' wide landscaping cloth for the rest.  It's supposed to last 10 years and isn't outrageously expensive.  Cardboard is cheaper, lasts the season and can be tilled into the soil.
I have more rows to put down here & at the In-laws.  The irrigation has to be hooked up and of course, we need to plant!

But all in due time.  The plastic will warm the soil until the last frost when we start planting.  There's 2-3 weeks left.


  1. Hi Tom! It's looking good. Did you do anything before putting down the plastic to amend the soil? Our northern garden is rototilled, and I'll plant peas this weekend, in between the rain drops. Joan from the fullquartfarm

  2. I've got compost in there. Last year I got 4 yards of compost.

    I put in clover over the winter and turned that in.

    Nothing else this year though more compost is always a good idea.