Mar 1, 2022

How Many Ways Do You Garden?

In all the places in all the world, growing a garden is done in so many different ways.  Today I’m going to touch on some of the ways to garden that I think are fun and interesting. Some may be standard, and others might be a bit out there!  Let’s dive in, shall we?

A raised bed doesn't need hard borders...it's all about what's inside that counts!

Raised Bed Gardening is pretty standard across the world.

Ways To Garden #1: Raised Beds

Most everyone has heard of a Raised Bed Garden. A plot of manageable size surrounded by wood, or concrete, or metal. But did you know that you don’t actually need to build walls around a raised bed to make it a raised bed?

Yep, that’s right. You can actually make raised beds in a multitude of ways, one of the simplest being to just make a pile of soil where you want the bed to be and plant in it!  No tilling necessary for this easy technique – decide the size you want the bed, add soil, and distribute until it’s plantable!  Done!

Will the soil “erode” at the edges?  Sure, probably a little bit during rain and watering and such. But your plant’s roots will help retain the soil and build structure.  And also, as you continue to garden, you’ll be adding more organic matter to your bed, further building it up over time. 

container gardening can be fancy or practical, you decide!

Containers for gardening can be most anything!

Ways to Garden #2: Containers

Container gardening is very common too.  Containers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and many gardeners use them to bring as much fun variety of colors and textures to the garden as the plants they contain!

There are some unusual containers out there too.  Old tires – turned inside out and painted bright colors – have become popular with upcyclers.  I’ve seen old boots, glassware, china, coffee cups, pieces of gutters, paint cans, soda bottles, and more be used for containers.  There’s really no end to what you can come up with!

Then there’s the standards – terra cotta, plastic resin, wood, concrete, etc.  There’s even a fun mix of concrete, peat, and perlite called Hypertufa that you can use to make your own pots.  Wouldn’t that be fun? 

square foot gardening

Square Foot Gardens Save Space and give you a wide variety!

Ways to Garden #3: Square Foot Gardening

I know the concept of a square foot garden can be a little intimidating, and possibly confusing.  But, it’s based on some sound principles of gardening, and it’s definitely worth a try, especially for people with limited space to garden!

Essentially, you put one kind of plant in every 1 foot “square” in your raised bed.  So, if your raised bed is 3 feet x 4 feet, you can have 12 squares to plant in. Each of those squares has one kind of plant in it.  Most people mark off their squares with twine forming a grid pattern across the bed (stapled down if their bed has wood walls, or some just use small stakes).  Some, like in the picture above, use 1″x1″ lumber to mark the squares.

You use the spacing instructions for that kind of seed, but apply it to a square instead of a row. The point of it is that you can crowd some plants into these squares, like lettuces, or marigolds, and other squares are only big enough to hold one plant, like a pepper plant, or a squash plant.  This gives you a great diversity of plants in a small space!

the beginnings of a hugelkultur growing bed

This is the start of a Hugelkultur mound – it will mimic the decay that happens on the forest floor over many years!

Ways to Garden #4: Hugelkultur

Who What?  Hugelkultur (pronounced Hoo-gle-culture) is a type of mounded bed that utilizes wood that would normally be sent to a landfill to create a garden bed that not only builds rich fertile soil, but also saves water, and saves plant materials from going to the landfill.

How, you ask?  Well, the experts have subtly-different ways of doing it, but it all centers around the digging of a pit and burying of logs and larger sticks within a layer of manure, then adding other organic material (like leaves, kitchen food waste, grass clippings), then covering that with the excavated soil mixed with manure, so that you have a “pile” that is about 12″ high (some say up to 36″). 

Then, when that is done you plant a cover crop like clover or cowpeas for a season, then mulch that and cover with hay or straw, then plant your garden on it.  As the wood and manure rot below the surface, they act like a sponge for water, and create a great microbiome of bacteria and fungi that help your garden grow.  

Sounds like fun, right?  I’ve been dying to try one.  Let me know if you have, and how it worked for you!

vertical gardening with plastic bottles

Upcycling is one of my favorite activities! Here’s a genius vertical bottle tower!

Ways to Garden #5: Vertical Gardens

Vertical Gardens encompass any number of ways to garden – including hydroponics and aquaponics – but the idea is to use your vertical spaces more productively, especially for people who have limited ground space, or none at all!

Garden Towers are a way to grow many kinds of plants while using up very little ground space.  There are many on the market to choose from.  Some require soil, others are hydroponic.

There are also ways to use vertical surfaces to support your gardens, such as fences, trellises, room dividers, even picture frames.  Pots hanging from a trellis, or a set of shoe hanger pockets with herbs and lettuces planted in them, to soda bottles hung sideways and strung together into long rows and hung from a swingset frame…I’ve seen many creative uses of vertical space.  Especially with upcycling plastics that would normally just be discarded in the trash. 

Pretty veggie garden

I wasn’t kidding when I said that gardens come in all shapes, colors, and sizes!

So, what kinds of gardening do you do?  Are you a heavy planner, or do you just wing it?  Maybe you’re somewhere in between “seat of your pants” and “planned to within inches of its life”?  Whatever your personality and preferences dictate, there is a type of gardening for you.

One of the beautiful things about gardening is that you can tailor-make it to something that feels good to you, comfortable and satisfying, like your favorite great-fitting piece of clothing.  You can make it enjoyable for yourself, a respite, a haven from the pressures and stresses of life.

Tell me what you like about your gardening types, I’m looking forward to it!

Until next time, Keep Growing!

 

Marissa

 

P.S. Are you looking for some fun ideas for upcycling in the garden?  I did an article at the beginning of the pandemic that has some fun ideas.  Check it out! 

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