It’s always tricky to do things differently than the way you’ve done them forever. I think it gets a lot easier if you bear down, commit, and consider everything that you can absorb.
I’ve been mulling the idea of creating identically-sized beds (instead of my existing hodgepodge sizing) for a bit. As I mentioned previously, there would be both benefits and drawbacks either way. I like the freedom that irregularity offers. If I blow up the plan and decide to add 5 extra feet of length or width, no biggie. Irregular beds are irregular.
But today it started to make sense that regular, orderly bed rows could be a major time-saving and productivity-enhancing concept. And something that I should seriously consider.
A few days ago making uniform-sized beds seemed a little distant. With parts of the garden off limits, planted to garlic and strawberries, there would be no realistic way to reorganize the whole garden until 2016.
One of my nice readers (Deby…thanks!) suggested trying permanent beds on a small scale first. And I looked over the garden plan and realized that I could change virtually half of the garden with very little extra effort. I guess that’s not really small-scale, but small is relative, right? The gears started to smoke.
What would be gained? Maybe a lot.
Every year it’s the same battle with the garden-squatting life forms that want what I grow as much as I do. The woodchucks, rabbits, and deer regularly saw off the tops of my tender bean, lettuce and corn seedlings. Then the greener life forms move in to tackle my cole crops. I deal with it, but not with a whole lot of zen or efficiency. There are some monstrous wood-framed chicken wire panels that get dragged out and tented dangerously over the bean crop. Bird netting over the corn seedlings. Cold frames for the lettuce. A little later, the Bt and neem oil.
With identically-sized beds, I’d be able to make efficient, transferable hoop houses out of rebar, PVC pipe and agribon or plastic. Costly? Mm, a little. But with covered beds, there’d be a huge reduction in the need for purchased biological controls, and most likely an increase in plants that thrive. At least that’s what happens in my head.
Starting to sound doable, even exciting. I wouldn’t need to cover the whole garden at once; just the beds with young seedlings, then later, beds susceptible to certain crawlies. And maybe I could even logic out a way to reduce the amount of tilling that I do (although I doubt I’ll ever believe that pulling back a mulch will allow for better small seed beds than tilling. We’ll see.)
Nearly half the garden could be converted to a modular system next year! Doesn’t take much of the right thing to get me pumping.
But not to jump too far too fast; the next step is living with this uniform system in my winter head. Picturing what it would be like to deal with the new physical structures, the layout, running through the whole lineup of plants that will live in their new mathematical homes. It’s going to be a great winter.