Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Intensive Gardening Step One

I promised to share the steps for intensive gardening practices with you. This type of gardening and soil preparation are perfect for raised beds and urban gardeners like myself who need to grow as much as possible in smaller spaces. 

The first step in intensive gardening is soil preparation. Since adopting this method this year I can see the difference in my garden. It is lush and super productive. Germination rates are higher and my yields are greater.
When preparing the soil, liberal use of compost is a must. If you don't make your own you should. I can tell my garden is so much healthier since making and using my own compost. The worms are everywhere, sign of good soil.
Here is an easy frugal DIY compost holder. I used this for two years until I purchased a big one.

Because you are growing more in less space, you need to double dig your garden beds. This means you take the area where you are going to be planting and dig the soil down at least twelve inches. Pile this soil to the side and pour in generous amounts of compost in your dug out area, then return the other soil on top. I mix mine up a bit. The reason for doing this is you want your roots to grow down and and not out in your loosened and nutrient rich soil for planting. You will be able to plant closer because roots will go down and not out. Planting closer mean less weeds too.

You can see below areas that I harvested then double dug, enriched with compost and planted seeds in. I keep these old plant trays on top of newly planted areas until the seedlings grow keeping the critters out.

You also don't want to step on your soil once you have prepared it to avoid any compaction. Loosened rich soil will absorb water and oxygen better. It is best to plant in narrow rows with some sort of way to walk between rows or in my case I use stepping stones to step in the garden for working or harvesting.

You can see below an example of a garden layout allowing for access to beds with paths between rows.

So step one in intensive gardening is soil preparation. I had always mixed in compost before but see now that this deeper preparation works magic. You can see below in my spring planting how lush and closely planted everything is. Blocking weeds and the ability to grow more in smaller space are just two of the benefits of this intensive gardening method. Next post, in part two, I will show you the plants I have put in for summer harvests and the key to successive planting and growing vertically.


  1. I really need to follow your steps and the first is that I need to start composting.

    I am going to google that right now.


  2. Great tips, Elaine!

    We've got a new house, and much less property than we used to have at the homestead.
    I'm looking forward to growing veggies, right along with my flowers and herbs.
    I'm hoping that I'll be able to get some veggies going this year.

    Have a happy day!

    Smiles :)

  3. Elaine, your garden is soooo beautiful! I just got my basil at the farmers market yesterday and as soon as it stops raining I'll get it planted in the raised bed. We mix our chicken manure in with the compost heap and it makes such great soil. I am so anxious to get everything planted this year:>)

  4. Great tips Elaine.
    I like the lay out of your garden...and I'm looking forward to see all that you've planted.
    I am having a pretty successful garden this year, though we started late. I sowed some seeds and out of my impatience, I went back and sowed more after adding more soil on top of my boxes...I have big boxes--but skimpy dirt. Thin layers. I really see the need for more dirt. Well, anyway-- the second set of seeds took off. Then later, after increased watering and warmer temps finally started coming round (it was in the upper 70's today; very nice) the first set of seeds started popping up. Guess what?! I've got more plants coming up than I ever imagined. Like gang busters. It helps that we've had plenty of rain for a 'drought-tired' area--AND! the bonus, rain and wet ground EQUALS NO GRASSHOPPERS!!!
    Can you tell I'm excited about NO grasshoppers? THREE YEARS, ELAINE! I they were the bane of my garden existence. :/
    Looking forward to reading more about your Intensive gardening advice and tips.

  5. Thanks Elaine for the tips. I surely need to nourish our soil, and compost is a great idea. I can make same type of a netty barrel too. What do you put in your compost?