There are many ways to garden food, so do what works for you.
In the community where we live, we are employing many awesome ways of doing food gardens. Since we’re right on the edge of the wilderness pretty much, most of our gardening is done in huge areas fenced in from deer. We are using recycled goods from the local recycled place Around Again to make much of this. The choice for what kind of garden you are planting (if you have to choose only one of them and not all of the above) depends on the resources you have available, and how you will be able to use them efficiently to get the most out of your time during the season. We’ve decided to play with all sorts of methods so we can discover by-and-by what works here in the long run.
In our newest garden, before we have a fence on it (still don’t as of this writing) I laid hugulkultur-inspired “lasagna beds” of layered stick, leaves and straw, manure, sand, dirt, clay, and made a point not to mix them. The experiment was to see if this layering effect would lead to more sub-surface habitat and a range of food items, not to mention the spaces in the litter, where invertebrates like rolly-pollies and earthworms can live, eat and move around. Many gardeners will agree that invertebrate droppings, including but not limited to the legendary castings of earthworms, make the best food for plants of all kinds. With this in mind, these experimental beds a year or two in feature copious earthworms per cubic foot of soil, and lots of potatoes harvested. (We planted potatoes here because the deer tried them and got sick – nightshade – then never tried them again.)
We also have a garden with log beds, close to the ground not raised, where we have greens and strawberries. Much of what I’m doing here is adding horse fertilizer, compost and sand to replace lost minerals, mixing the dirt once a year with a shovel, and separating plants like kale and lettuce so they can get the space they need. I’m not too concerned with weeds, in the sense that I don’t agree with pulling the foliage covering the ground (the Earth’s skin, in a way) if I don’t have something like food plants, straw, fir needle mulch, or alder chips to fill the spaces in. Something has to cover the ground, or precious moisture and nutrients are lost. Plus, leaving the ground covered again leads to habitat and food for beneficial worms, bugs and spiders.
Check out some of the shots below (more to come soon).