Types of Gardens

15.09.2017 |

Episode #1 of the course Small-scale gardening by Alice Morgan


Good morning and welcome to your first lesson! When you think of a farm, you probably picture large fields filled with corn, tomatoes, and pumpkins. Your mind’s eye supplies an overall-wearing farmer on a tractor slowly moving through their pastures, tending to their crops, harvesting plump vegetables, and sitting down to home-cooked meals made from the fruits of their labors. The farmer’s bucolic life seems worlds away from the average urban or suburban lifestyle. The good news is: It’s not. Let’s get started by going over three different kinds of gardens today: earthen gardens, raised bed gardens, and container gardens.


Earthen Gardens

An earthen garden is what most people picture when thinking of a home garden. It’s a simple design accomplished by removing layers of grass and vegetation to get down to bare top soil. Growers can then plant seeds directly into the earth to propagate their crops. Bare earth gardens are great for people with more land and time to devote to a garden. Once they are established, they’ll only need occasional compost applications and mulching to reduce weeds.

When it comes to choosing a site for your earthen garden, be prepared to remove the grass. One method is to kill it and turn it under the dirt to allow it to decompose. You can also use the “lasagna method” to prepare your site. Layer cardboard and newspaper onto the ground, keep it wet, and wait. The layers will shade out grass, kill it, and then decompose to create an initial layer of nutrient-rich compost. Using this method, you may have to wait longer to start your garden but shouldn’t have to do much more work to prepare the ground.


Raised Bed Gardens

For a raised bed garden, you’ll create a short barrier and fill it with soil. They are a great choice for those who don’t have much room or time, but still want a good-sized garden. A more manageable size means that it’s easier to sow seeds, keep down the weeds, and harvest your crops. Raised beds allow you to create the perfect soil base from the start. You also won’t be walking on the soil, which will prevent the earth around your plants from becoming impacted and hard.

Raised beds are usually rectangular but can be found in many other shapes. Wood is a popular building material because it is inexpensive and easy to use. Other popular materials include rubber, sheet metal, bricks, or concrete. If you decide to build your own bed, make sure you use a non-toxic material that won’t leach into the soil. There are also many premade kits available to purchase.

When filling your bed, you’ll want to minimally prepare the ground by breaking up grass and dirt and removing any large rocks. Opening up the soil will allow your plants’ roots to penetrate the underlying soil for proper growth. Once the ground is prepared, pour in the new soil, and your garden is ready for seeds.


Container Gardens

Container gardens require the least effort and space of all three garden types. To set one up, all you’ll need to do is purchase enough pots to fill up your desired space. You can customize by choosing the size, shape, material, and color of your containers. Container gardens only require a few minutes every day to maintain, and rarely develop weeds that need to be pulled.

Whatever vessel you decide to put your garden in, make sure that it has decent drainage. Check that the container has a large hole or several small holes underneath. Without proper drainage, a plant’s root will rot and the whole plant will die. You’ll also want to make sure that you obtain a large enough container for your plant. Check the back of your seed packets for spacing information, and use that to plan accordingly for your plant’s size.

Don’t worry if gardening already seems overwhelming. Start small and then grow as you get more experience. You can always change your setup in the future. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about several different factors to consider when placing your garden.


Recommended book

Starter Vegetable Gardens by Barbara Pleasant


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