SPACE-SAVVY GARDENING


March 27, 2008


By Victoria County Master Gardener,
Ed Gregurek



Edited by Charla Borchers Leon
The garden design can be sized to any dimension that is suitable and available space allows, although it is recommended to maintain this configuration in order to preserve uniqueness and convenience that the design provides.”
Many times, my friends have told me that they would like to have a garden on part of the area near their homes.  Then I would hear, “I do not have an appropriate place in my yard for a garden, I don’t have the means to prepare the soil for a garden, a garden would ruin the looks of my yard, I am not ready to devote the time and effort to maintain a garden,” and so on. But despite all of these negative reasons, they still would like to have a garden.

My answer was, “Would you like a garden, - vegetable, flower or combination of the two - that requires very little tilling and weeding, is easily accessible for working in and harvesting, while walking on soft green ground cover?  You may even place it wherever it is convenient and if you move, you might possibly take it with you!”

I read in
Kitchen Gardener magazine about such a garden, and it seemed to be the answer to all of those negative thoughts, yet “doable” and could be placed in a desirable place and adjusted to a desirable size.
PHOTOS by Ed Gregurek, Victoria County Master Gardener
Conventional-shaped and several odd-shaped raised beds form the ground design for this space saving garden.
Both flowers and vegetables are growing in these raised beds in the described configuration and require little weeding and tilling with easy accessibility from all sides.
Mature vegetable plants grown with minimal care in these beds are easily accessible and ready to be harvested.
GARDEN CONFIGURATION
CONVENTIONAL BEDS
As you can see on the accompanying diagram, the garden I’m describing is a raised bed garden and is composed of 10 large sections and 5 small sections.  The large sections are used to make the long and “L” shaped conventional beds and the other beds are used to become the odd configuration beds.  The 2 large sections are of the same design, except for the ends, each having a trellis. 
The trellis on one end is of an oriental design, while the other end is a square structure containing 3 slanted bars in the top corner and the diagonally opposite bottom corner.  On the largest of these bars are bamboo canes, 8 inches apart.  These trellises are used for vining plants, such as flowering vines, pole beans, cucumbers, grapes and others.

ODD CONFIGURATION BEDS
Between the two sections are an octagon-shaped bed and four small triangle beds.  These are scaled to the size of the other beds and placed so as to allow room for access to them and the other beds.  These small beds are used the same way as other beds but have room for only a few plants.

ANY SIZE AND DIMENSION
This garden can be sized to any dimension that is suitable and available space allows.  It would be good policy to maintain the configuration of the garden, in order to preserve its uniqueness and the convenience that the design provides.

CONSTRUCTING THE GARDEN

This garden can be constructed of any type of material that would hold the enclosed amount of soil and still hold its original shape.  The material to use would depend on your choice and your ability to construct it.
2” x 12” lumber can be used; either treated wood or cedar is a good choice, being somewhat less labor intensive.  If using treated lumber, some precautions need to be taken with vegetable plants.
If lumber is to be used you have to make some 2” x 4” stakes and drive them into the ground at the ends at corners of each side of the container.  The 2 x 12’s, both sides and ends, are bolted to these stakes with lag screws, making sure everything is level and square, otherwise it will be very noticeable until the vegetation covers it up.  If using other type of material, such as stone or cinderblocks, make sure it is of sufficient height and strength to hold the amount of soil that will be put there.
In building the small beds in the center, you have to cut the ends of the boards at an angle that will permit the boards to meet and make a closed end, being 45 degrees on the triangle and 22.5 degrees on the octagon, then secure them to the 2 x 4 stakes as with the large beds.

FINISH BEDS WITH SUITABLE SOIL


When finished with the construction, fill all of the beds with suitable soil.  A 40 – 60 mixture of soil and mushroom compost is a very good choice giving several years of good production of flowers and vegetables.  If you fill these 12-inch forms full, you should not have any problem with grass growing through it and if it begins to creep up along the outside, use a sting trimmer to remove it.
This type of garden can be used to grow anything that you can grow outside of a built up garden, vegetable or flowers, while providing you with a minimum of work and care.
Its unique design will attract the attention of many friends and neighbors.