I did some volunteer work with a local historical working organic farm and got some free training on how to prepare a vegetable bed. They had acres of land with cover crop and 50 designated planting beds they were tilling one at a time. I had the pleasure of practicing bed preparation and used the experience in my own garden. I started with a weedy bed like the 2nd row down from the top of he picture. At the farm they tilled it under and at home I did a thorough weeding resulting in a clean, loose soil bed like the 3rd row down in the photo.
Unfortunately our plot is covered in bind weed. I understand roots can grow 10 feet in length and when a tiller is used, every piece of root that is chopped up turns into a new plant. Everyone I ask for an organic solution to bind weed says the same thing. “The only way to get rid of bind weed is to move!” I’ve accepted this nasty weed as something I’m just going to have to tolerate.
The farm had a weed barrier paper they laid down which I’m going to look into next year. The drip irrigation was placed on top of the paper. Not having the paper, I skipped to the next step and covered the bed in straw to suppress weeds. Note the top row in the picture.
Finally, they created furrows just outside of the paper strips covered in straw and planted either seeds or transplants lining up to the drip irrigation. I planted bean seeds shown in the finished bed at the bottom of the picture. The last step for the farm was to put down a row cover over all the seeded rows until the seedlings where an inch or two tall. They had so many birds on the property that the seeds or tiny seedlings would be destroyed before they could take hold. I didn’t have a problem with birds eating my seeds or seedlings last year, but I have more birds this year and they loved the beans, pumpkin seeds, and watermelon seeds. I had to plant the pumpkins and watermelons twice and put some fencing around the beans to keep the birds at bay. I’ll also consider the row cover for next year.
I’m still weeding like crazy and putting down straw but everything is finally coming up and looking good. We had a small hail storm that required replanting some damaged tomatoes but everything recovered nicely. It was lucky I had extra tomato transplants!
I can’t wait to see if these added methods help the yield.