easy garden prep for no-weeds
If you're like me with physical limitations that prohibit heavy digging and lifting or you just don't want to spend a lot of time digging you might want to try composting right in the garden spaces. I'll share some pics if you promise to ignore the garden clutter as well as the neighbor's shed & stacked window frames. Work in progress doesn't always look neat & tidy, but I do desire to make it finished like the gardens next to the house I'll post at the end.
We have a lot of garden and various projects ongoing, but none are filled with weeds because of my methods. I'm also cheap, so I've not purchased compost or topsoil to create our garden soils, but have gathered compost materials.
Some call it lasagna gardening (LG), which is basically sheet mulching especially now in fall to let the areas compost in place, so all you do is plant in spring not dig nor pull loads of weeds. I layer organic matter over the top of my rocky, clay soil. Garden space began in 1995 as layers over pit run along the gravel driveway next to the forest. First, planted fruit trees and large containers of vegetables and flowers in '95 or '96. If I can do it, you can, too!
August 2010 after potato harvest.
Bare soil where potatoes were behind the everbearing strawberries, & in front of zucchini & fruit trees. We removed straw mulch, lifted potatoes, added a mix of organic matter, but left off the mulch for 2 weeks because there were slugs in the straw. Our weather turned quite wet mid-August, so I didn't want to encourage the slugs. Straw went back on when we had another dry spell. Early spring 2010 we added concrete blocks to hold back the soil we've created over the years with the layering methods & filled them with chives, oregano, thyme & sedums. From 2010 flower garden
Once crops harvested add compost & replant or do above to that area.
Here are pics of our raised beds both with wood and concrete blocks along the side of the gravel driveway. Herbs are in pots as well as plants I've propagated or received from plant trades. From 2010 flower garden
-Black plastic container is earth machine composter mostly used as kitchen waste & household paper storage until we build compost piles in place. They slowly compost ingredients, so I can harvest from the bottom small amounts.
-The green buckets and large white were an experiment with those self-watering containers for tomatoes and peppers, but without an overflow hole didn't work too well. I'm slowly hot composting that soil out of the buckets to renew it and may try that idea again, so have left them in place so that the cats don't use that area for a toilet.
-burlap bags suppress weeds on my path and also cover up some of the bare soil on edges I try not to let any soil be uncovered or the cats will do their thing. From 2010 flower garden
Hanging yellow balloon is my attempt to keep the deer from the strawberries. On my chair is my red insulated cup & soft blanket for my resting chair along with my green bag of gardening books. I love to relax & read in the garden.
Center of strawberry bed has a pit of organic matter composting under the burlap bags. With adding the concrete blocks & soil to the edges I was a bit short of soil ready to transplant our strawberries into, so raked it to the edges & created a pit for various compostables with a lot of brushy matter.
Since August I've pushed finished material to the side as well as top dressed strawberries with it using my hands. I planted 7 different types of daylilies behind the front 2 rows of strawberries. Added more material to fill the smaller pit & folded burplap in 1/2. From 2010 flower garden
July 2010 view from my chair looking back toward our home. My family moved the rocks and helped build the mounded beds to connect the front corner bed with a center bed all alongside the house as well as expand the bed around the cherry tree. We used the layering method gathering materials over time including soil excavated from our backyard patio project. I covered the compost in place with burlap bags, which created a uniform look in between additions of material. From 2010 flower garden
view toward front porch showing weeds in gravel (must be pulled & needs more gravel to prevent weed growth)
A great book to read about methods of composting in the garden (easy & no wheelbarrows or buckets to haul about) and especially ideas about controlling weeds without pulling them is The Complete Compost Gardening Guide: Pleasant & Martin, Storey, 2008. There are many ways to compost and I think this book explains them well with pics and text. I especially like her explanations for how to compost in place because you can carry the materials in small bunches to build your layers, then once it's matured a season or two, you're ready to plant without digging!