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The Main Vegetable Garden

July 19th, 2016

I have a small potager out behind the house, it’s an ornamental vegetable garden. In it I grow a lot of herbs and lettuce. Out behind the garage there’s a big vegetable garden, right now it’s probably 70 feet wide by about 50 feet wide. It gets a little bigger each year, in a few years we will have expanded it to the final size. When that time comes we will make permanent pathways, plant hedges, and a large perennial border in front of the fence that will surround it. Until then, it’s a fairly traditional garden space. I have rows that are 4 feet wide, vegetables are planted very closely in these beds, or things are interplanted.
Main edible garden 1
It’s filled with all sorts of things, mostly the ones I grow in large amounts: peas, beans, onions, potatoes, asparagus, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, etc.
Main edible garden 2
Main edible garden 3
I read a while ago that at the Hagley mansion garden they layered their garden waste in a row of the garden throughout the growing season. There was not turning of the compost, it was let sit over the winter and the following spring squash was planted in the piles to use the nutrients while it continued to compost. I’m giving this method a try in my garden, so far the zucchini planted in the pile is doing well.
Main edible garden 5
Main edible garden 4
Main edible garden 6
This garden is not tilled, it hasn’t been since we moved in. The result is that each year I have fewer and fewer weeds and the soil structure is getting better and better. It’s amazing how much difference you can make in a short amount of time, I’ve noticed huge differences in water and nutrient retention along with weed load in this garden in the past four years. It’s a great space, hopefully when it reaches its final size it will be big enough to allow 25% of it to be fallow each year so the soil can rest.

How’s your edible garden going? What size do you consider the perfect size for an edible garden?

12 Comments to “The Main Vegetable Garden”
  1. Nebraska Dave on July 19, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Susy, my Terra Nova Gardens size is 60X60 feet. It’s quite enough for me to keep. I’ve finally foiled the raccoons and have harvested 36 ears of sweet corn so far this year with much more to come. I have a back yard garden of four 4X8 foot beds for table fresh tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, and cucumbers. One bed is filled with Forget Me Nots and some other flower that I can’t remember. I’m sure you remember that I’m not really into flowers but I trying. :-) The cucumbers this year have some issues so there won’t be too many to enjoy. Maybe next year will be a cucumber year. Each year is unique. Some vegetables do really well and others don’t.

    Have a great harvest day from your garden.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  2. Sara on July 19, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Your garden is beautiful! I suppose the perfect size garden is one you can manage without making yourself overwhelmed. Or just big enough to feed your family for the year! :)

    Reply to Sara's comment

  3. Misti on July 19, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Your garden is coming along great! Lush and very full!

    Reply to Misti's comment

  4. Chris on July 19, 2016 at 11:24 am

    Gorgeous garden! How do you keep the deer out of it?

    Reply to Chris's comment

    • Susy on July 19, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      For one, I think the deer here in Maine are a little more wild than they are in most of the country. We have deer in our woods, I see hoofprints in the garden in winter. They like to eat the rye I plant as a covercrop, but they rarely come around in spring/summer/fall. In fact, we rarely see a deer during those times. Perhaps it’s because they have a lot more to forage on in the woods around the garden? We do have a dog back by the garden, but I’m not sure if she’d bark at deer or not. We have the problem with birds and porcupines as far as pests in the garden.

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  5. Amy Thiessen on July 19, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Your garden is gorgeous! We let ours get a bit over-grown this year, but still hoping for a good crop of green beans and tomatoes. Will miss all the squash and sweet potatoes- I feel like the more the merrier of those!!

    Reply to Amy Thiessen's comment

  6. MC on July 19, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Does anyone have advice on protecting small melons from critters? Does putting pantyhose on the melon work?

    Our garden keeps getting bigger. It’s already a handful, but in order to grow enough food to get us through winter and spring, I will have to expand it!

    Reply to MC's comment

    • Susy on July 19, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      I wonder if spraying with a hot pepper solution would work, or sprinkling garlic around them. That always worked for my bulbs.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Chris on July 19, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    You are very lucky that the deer don’t bother your garden. We live in a pretty heavily forested area ourselves but somehow they manage to visit our garden quite frequently…hence the water scarecrow we have! Your woods must have tastier things in them then ours…
    Porcupines? I never thought of them as garden raiders but I guess they like veggies too! :)
    I’m going to try your method of planting squash in my compost piles next year…sounds like a great idea!

    Happy Gardening!

    Reply to Chris's comment

  8. Nancy on July 22, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Love to read your blog every day–starts my day with such enjoyment! I wanted to know how you have built such great, friable soil without tilling every year. My husband is a staunch believer in tilling, sometimes doing our garden in both spring and fall. Although we’ve built better soil by adding organic matter over the years I don’t see any earth worms. I would be interested in knowing where you got the information you use for cover cropping, etc. so that we can get away from so much tilling but still be able to plant and have good yields. Thanks so much-

    Reply to Nancy's comment

    • Susy on July 22, 2016 at 2:37 pm

      I highly recommend reading Charles Dowding ‘Vegetable Course’ he explains in detail the benefits of no till gardening and he has loads of information in his book, it’s worth every penny!

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Nancy on July 22, 2016 at 4:32 pm

        Thanks, Susy. I’ll be checking out Amazon for that one!

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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