I always need another garden bed, but my goal this year is to work really hard on getting enough production from the garden that I can put away a decent amount of food. In the past, I have done some pickling, canning, and fermenting, but no large amount of food from my garden has ever really been put away to eat over the winter. The squash I grow usually store for a while in cool storage, but the kids will only eat so much squash. I need more options of food that I store, which means I need to grow more, and have better garden beds.
I also get to help two kids build their very own garden beds in between building this new garden trench. I’m thrilled the kids asked for gardens, but it certainly increases my work load!
The Man had dug up a trench to be used as a foundation for a new house. It turned out not to be the right spot for the house (think flood) so he told me to use it as a garden bed. YESSSSSS!!!!!
I decided to set it up like a hugelkultur garden bed, just in a trench. This was not only because hugel beds work so well, but also the trench was deep and I needed a lot of materials to fill it up.
The first layer of the trench garden bed is large rotten logs, with smaller logs on top. The rotten wood acts like a sponge to hold water for the plants in your garden. As they rot over a few years, they add rich, organic matter to your bed.
After the logs, I added layer of brush. The smaller sticks will break down faster then the logs, and will also hold water like the logs.
The buckets you see will be for posts at some point. The posts will form a (hopefully) large dome-like trellis for the squash plants in the trench.
On top of the brush there is a layer of leaves that will hopefully begin to fill in all the spaces between logs and brush. The less air space, the better.
Then a thick layer of aged compost. It is not quite great soil yet, but it is close.
I lined the edges of the trench with rotten logs to help form walls to keep everything in. There will eventually be rock walls, and the log walls will rot away into the soil.
After the layer of compost, I used a layer of really well aged compost from a bed in another area of the property. This soil used to be a layered bed just like I am building here. A few years later, only a few small logs and rich soil remain. Many of the logs that do remain are so rotten that they chop easily with a shovel.
Finally, to top it all off, add a layer of straw. (Not hay. Hay is full of seeds. Hay makes hay.) I was amazed at how much the straw layer help to keep the beds moist and the plants happy.
The only problem with the straw is that it is full of cucumber beetles, hiding away, waiting to devour my squash plants. I have been using diatomaceous earth around the plants, in attempt to kill the beetles. It seems to be slowly helping. It is hard to tell because it has been rainy and/or windy just about every day.
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