We're well under way now with our spring garden and have been enjoying fresh squash, zucchini and cucumbers for a few weeks now. This picture was taken about one month after our first planting. We started the squash and zucchini on the right of the picture first, and the watermelon and cucumbers a week or two later. A few of the squash and zucchini were started from seeds in pete pots, then transplanted to the garden. The rest of the plants were started from seeds, directly in the garden.
Over the last 4 years I have added at least a ton of wood chips to our 30ft x 30ft garden plot. Four years ago, I covered the entire garden with a 6 inch layer of wood chips, for weed and moiture control. The wood chips came from a neighbor of mine who had a huge pile of chips, compliments of a tree trimming crew who were trimming along the power lines in our neighborhood. They were more than happy to dump the load from their chipper truck in his yard, rather drive back to the waste area. I shoveled several loads into my trailer, then unloaded the chips into the garden. After about a year and a half, weeds began to grow in the chips, so I tilled the partially decayed wood chips into the soil with our little yanmar 1300d tractor. The following year, another neighbor across the street from us, had some huge trees cut down. Most of the big logs were hauled away, but all the linmbs were chipped up and left in a huge pile in the neighbors yard. They were planning to haul the chips away and were happy to have me take away as much as I needed. I covered the whole garden again, about 6 inches deep with chips (one wheelbarrow load at a time). So last winter I tilled all those chips into the soil and left the garden fallow for the winter. early this spring I tilled the garden one more time, then covered the entire space with the black ground cover you can see in the picture. This is commercial grade ground cover that previously covered about a quarter acre where a friend of mine used to farm habanero peppers. The ground cover has holes where the peppers were originally planted, but because I had a surplus of covering, it is double layered on our garden to ensure no weeds find an opening. So with the previous organic matter from the wood chips mixed in the soil, and the cover to prevent weeds, we have only had to add water this year, so far.
I am a bit late on getting this article posted and will be following up with a few more articles about our spring garden, over the next few days. Please feel free to post comments or questions anytime!