Winter gardening. A hobby gardener's work is never done. Yet, it usually not work, but much enjoyed time outdoors, super physical activity and gratifying effort. We've had way too many of those sunny, almost 50 degree winter days here in Virginia the past few years. My winter memories as a kid in Virginia are of random, wonderful snow falls and crisp clear days. Lately, it seems they are of pleasantly warm days, stink bugs and ticks that never quite die off, and worries about adequate snow for family ski trips.
Today was a great, sunny almost 50 degree and the beds called to me. Our vegetable garden is a grid of 16 raised beds. I never seem to have enough space to plant, especially as we plant more perennials each year, such as berries and asparagus, which take up bed space year around. Between the beds we have grass, which is a huge chore to mow each week, fighting with the mower to turn the corners around the beds. We have talked about killing off the grass, laying down landscape fabric, and bringing in rock for the paths between the beds, but the cost and effort required has deterred us.
So today I turned 3 paths over to bed space by filling in the space between raised beds with a little herbicide, layers of newspaper, and many wheelbarrows full of compost and soil. This will give me essentially 3 new beds, to plant tomatoes which really did not need to be in a raised bed. One wheelbarrow was full of the solid gold dirt from our outdoor chicken coop area, a live compost pile of sorts, with the chickens scratching, fertilizing and making compost of the fruit, grain and veggie scraps I give them. It is dark, rich, well aerated soil.
I'll be eager to see how this works in terms of weed control, one of the benefits of raised beds which I will lose. I intend to mulch heavily around the tomato plants to stay ahead of the weeds and short periods of drought.
I plan the rotation of our beds carefully, to maximize production in the summer months. With the extra space, maybe we can try some new veggies!