January 31, 2013

Garden Think: Revamping The Beds

When we first planned out our garden, we based it on the 60 by 80 foot "Eat 'N Store" garden in Dick Raymond's Joy of Gardening. Even though we're only a family of two, Dan figured it was a good starting place. He tilled the ground and to make the beds initially, we simply divided the garden in half, with a main walkway down the middle. I ended up with beds about 23 feet long. I honestly didn't think much about them after that, except occasionally to wish they weren't so long to walk around.

When we put up the cattle panel for our fall peas, I began to think about how I could use cattle panels as trellises in the future. Cattle panels are 16 feet  long, and after some quick recalculations, I realized we could make three 16 foot beds per row, to replace the two 23 foot beds.

So we're going from this...

...to this...

It gives me more beds, but they will be easier to work with I think. The bottom of the garden is solid green, because currently we have winter wheat planted there. I'm not sure if I'll make beds there later, or continue to use it for growing small patches of things like wheat, amaranth, or sunflowers.

In addition to shorter beds, the two main pathways will be wider as well. I measured where they would go a few weeks ago, and outlined the new paths with rocks.

Garden before, with proposed pathway marked.

The other day Dan tilled the empty beds, and I started to make the new paths. The soil is soft and moist, so I easily shoveled out the new paths and used the soil to fill in where the old middle path used to be.

New pathway.

It will take awhile to do all the beds this way. I decided to change the beds and pathways after I planted the fall garden, so we'll have to wait on that and on a few things I'm waiting to go to seed. The cattle panel trellis at the bottom still has peas growing on it, and I'm hoping to run this new path between the t-posts once the peas are done and the panel is down.

I have to say that the 16 foot beds look so much more manageable. And the path being wider really helps with the wheelbarrow. And working outside is making me excited about this year's garden. With the kitchen remodel out of the way, it's gonna be gung-ho gardening.


  1. Before our recent snowstorm (for which I'm very thankful - we're in a severe drought and really need every drop of moisture!), we had a few days in a row that felt just like spring! I put aside most everything else those days to work on mulching the garden, and found that same feeling you have now. So much to look forward to this growing season. Your smaller beds look much more manageable :) -Jaime

  2. Leigh,

    Great idea to make your garden beds more manageable. I love the idea of making larger pathways, its convenient when using tools and the wheelbarrow.

    Are you set with seeds and seedlings for the next planting season? I'm excited, and can't wait to plant.

    We have above ground garden boxes, and I love using them. I'm not to fond of cutting the grass in between (it's real tight). This season we will be adding several more boxes, and a few tires for planting sweet potatoes in straw. I also believe, we will be adding many more 5 gallon buckets to the back porch for planting.

    Gardening is such a wonderful way to be self reliant.

  3. I can't wait to see how it looks growing things. I have been hankering to plan lately myself.

  4. I like the shorter beds myself. It makes me feel that things are a little more manageable than looking up to see how much farther I have to go weeding, with the sweat dripping in my eyes, on a monstrous 60' row.

    I also use cattle panels extensively throughout our garden. Bean arches and trellis for everything from squash and cucs to tomatoes and peas.

  5. Great idea to condense the beds. Sometimes we can only come up with these solutions through trial and error. It's one of the best ways to learn! Can't wait to see what you'll have growing!

  6. Jaime, your weather sounds like ours! Mulching is exactly the next step I'm working on. Thankfully we have tons of leaves, and I've been busy raking, hauling, and dumping. Not only to preserve moisture, but to control weeds!

    Sandy, you sound just as excited as I feel, LOL I love it. For seeds, I've been saving for quite a few years, but decided to go ahead and make some big seed orders this year too. I'd like to try some new varieties and give my tried and true varieties a little genetic diversity as well.

    Garden Tenders, I didn't go all out with last year's garden because of the kitchen remodel, which was work intensive and time consuming. This year though, I'm ready!

    Woody, this was the first time I've tried a cattle panel as a trellis and I love it. They are such handy items to have around the homestead.

    Daisy, that is so true! I am definitely a trial and error sort of gal. In fact I'm fond of saying that I learn more from my "mistakes," than from doing it right the first time. :)

  7. Funny how we're always changing things in the garden, isn't it? I tend to agree with Woody that the smaller beds will be better for your mental health at least.

    "One down, 29 more to go!" @;)

  8. And to think I'm having a hard time planning my itty bitty pretty garden for around the deck!

  9. I like that idea :) Will be curious to see how it goes as things mature.

  10. I just love to be able to cross over my beds, but often didn't plan well enough for it. Thankfully, we have enough rocks that I can "plant" a few and then lay down a hunk of 2" x 6" to form a bridge for the temporary walking needs. If you don't have rocks, you can put some blocks on the bottom of it. Just make sure it fits securely on the top of the wheel barrow when you are walking it.

  11. I wish my beds were in good order - but over here the ground is so wet, that it is impossible to do any tilling, digging or even just weeding:( anybody wants some rain? we could spare some (a lot:))

  12. This plan looks so much more "user-friendly"! And since you're the user, it SHOULD be friendly to your needs. Last year I container-gardened here in our heat, and all my plants died. This year I'm planning a garden bed and hoping for better success!

  13. Tami, that is so true. Both about the garden constantly changing and smaller beds for better mental health!

    Theresa, but then you get to spend all that lovely time in your studio. :)

    Stephanie, thanks!

    Barb, excellent idea. I don't have many rocks, but I have tons of bricks. I've also thought about some pretty stepping stones, just to hop from one aisle to the other.

    Bettina, I can relate to that. We really shouldn't have been working in the garden because it was still muddy. But more rain was forecast and the unfortunate reality of food self-sufficiency is having to do things when we can, not when conditions are perfect. :) I imagine your rain tanks are nice and full however.

    Debbie, I've never done well with container gardening. Mostly for the reason you mention. I think you'll have much better results with a garden in the ground.

  14. I like your plan. I'm sure it will work out really well for you, you might even get more yield because you are able to get at it easier.

    now to keep those pesky critters out. ;o)

    I'm going to try to talk hubby into a permanent bed along our retaining wall...two purposes, garden will retain moisture better and will provide an obstacle to our flying dog. ;o)

  15. Leigh,

    I love the symmetry of your garden! I also want to try some wheat. How big of an area do you have it planted in & how much do you expect to harvest?

  16. The smaller beds will be much easier to work in and around, I think. You are always so busy and productive. I admire that.

  17. Last season, we went to shorter beds also and were much happier. We have to do more re-working as the rabbits ate my beans last year....not this year!!

    Would you please pop over to my blog and see if you might be able to shed some light on my 'mystery object', many of the guesses have been weaving related..Thanks in advance. xo

  18. Goodness that looks like fun! We're still in the pondering seed catalogue stage since the ground is frozen. I agree that the smaller beds look less overwhelming. I find I underestimate the amount of space needed for wheel barrows etc, and that really does make things more difficult.

  19. I love stock panels! When the farmers' co-op I belong to has the annual members' sale, I buy as many as I can afford so they will be waiting when the next fencing project gets underway. I also use them for the garden, and for arched shelters for livestock. Love that I can just take things apart and use the panels again in another configuration.

  20. Renee, thanks. The permanent bed sounds like a good idea, for both reasons. :)

    DFW, thanks! That one isn't a very big area, about 12 by 60 feet I reckon. I don't really know what the yield will be. So far we haven't been able to thresh all the wheat we've grown, only small batches. The chickens will peck the grains out of the whole heads, so it's still useful. This particular plot was grown to observe my new rule: never leave the ground bare!

    Sue, well, both of us are doers. Neither one of us does well just sitting around. Our projects are both our hobby and our lifestyle!

    Sherri, sorry I couldn't be any help with they mystery object. And here's hoping you defeat your rabbits. We're still working on our deer.

    Nina, I do that too, underestimate the space needed in the pathways. And then I plant too close to the edge of the bed, so that plants take up more space! I'm hoping this plan will work out better. :)

    Quinn, that's exactly what we need to do, stock up on stock panels! They seem so economical for so many uses.

  21. the new beds will be much easier to work, from all sides. good thinking!

  22. I KNOW you will like your new configuration of the beds much better . . . for so many reasons! What is the old saying? You shape your environment and your environment shapes you. The garden will be much easier to work in.

  23. Your garden is far larger than mine but I've basically done the same over the years...combine smaller beds into larger. Ordered pathways are nice but they do take up a lot of growing space.


Welcome to 5 Acres & A Dream The Blog! Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation.