Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

The Tale of an Ugly Vegetable Garden

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During community presentations and tours, I often have folks ask me if we plant a vegetable garden.  A large scale vegetable garden has always been on my wish list but has never worked out – until this year.

Before I go any further, I should say that this is definitely not the conventional method of vegetable gardening.  To make the garden happen, our summer intern and I had to creatively work with the materials available on site.  After viewing the final product, one volunteer told me it was the ugliest vegetable garden he had ever seen.  That’s fine with me as long as it produces!

    

You might recall that we fence in our Rose Garden each fall to keep out the rabbits.  Since the Arboretum is out in the country and the snow drifts can reach several feet tall, we install very tall fence panels that can be easily installed in the fall and removed in the spring.  Since these panels have to be stored each summer, I decided to use them as our perimeter fencing for the vegetable garden.

The garden is located on the site of an old compost pile – ideal for nutrient-rich soil but also a full of weed seeds.  To cut down on weeding (low maintenance was key in making this garden happen), we placed thick layers of newspaper as our weed barrier (to help lay flat, we wetted the newspaper beforehand).   The newspaper also provided a simple way to create straight lines between our rows.

Once the newspaper was down, we noticed how easily it was tearing underfoot.  To stop the tearing (and keep newspaper from blowing), we found some orange snow fence to roll out over the newspaper.  When it was time to plant, we simply cut holes for each plant (or long rows for the sweet corn).  Instead of using tomato cages, our tomatoes will grow up poles.

Our vegetable garden boasts several varieties of tomatoes, green peppers, squash, sweet corn and egg plant.  Thank you to the volunteers that donated our starter plants!

Now that the garden is fairly established, it takes very little weekly maintenance.  Depending on the weather, we water every other day and walk through weekly to pull any big weeds.  So far the newspaper is working great.

Stay tuned for updates on our vegetable garden.  If our plants produce, we will share with volunteers and Story Time participants.  If our plants produce a lot, we will donate all extra to the food bank.

See you in the gardens.

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Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

June 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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