Our Homesteading Essentials

Building Our New Market-Garden Beds

We’ve decided to up our gardening game this season.

We’ve increased our gardening space each year, but now we’ve out-grown our original 50’x100′ garden and we need to expand.

Since we were expanding anyway, we thought we would try our hand at market-gardening; growing extra food to sell.

The first thing we have to do is clear the new garden area. It’s 300’x100′ so we’re very grateful to have a tractor for this part. Derrell starts by pulling up some of the larger brush and dragging it around the area we want cleared. It creates a giant “broom” that grabs the grass and smaller plants and “sweeps” them away. This gives us a nice, clear area to work with.

The next step is to prep the ground and build beds.

We’re still dealing with heavy clay soil in this new area, so we first put down a layer of gypsum to help break up the clay. Next, we top the gypsum with cardboard as a weed barrier and to encourage earthworms. We saved cardboard all winter, but we still didn’t have enough, so we had to finish with rolls of compost paper.

We need a few dozen new beds, so it would be too expensive to build the high straw bale beds I love and fill them with garden soil, so we’re doing low beds. Normally we would build frames for the beds out of 2×4’s but lumber is scarce this year, so we built one frame to use as a form. We fill the form with garden soil, then cover it with agricultural fabric to hold the soil in place and slow down evaporation. We’ll make small holes in the fabric when it comes time to plant.

It’s a huge undertaking, but it will be well worth it this fall when we harvest enough food to preserve for our family for the year and still have enough to sell.