Gardening in the margins

Ever notice that some beds just leak? After learning more about Integrated Weed Management and the concept of planting things that can out compete the weeds, as well as Permaculture and the concept of planting things where the water is already, I experimented.

Years ago I planted Salad Burnet in a small bed next to a bigger one. I have since moved that frame to a different spot, but the Burnet still grows. Year after year. I do nothing. It is a quiet companion.

I since laid out a soaker hose in that bed to simplify my watering routine. I noticed that the ground around the bed gets damp before I am finished watering all the things on that “system”. Started Salad Burnet by seed with this year’s veggies. It seems quite happy along the side of the bed, and in future may save me a little weeding, and could end up in salads.

Calendula sprouts

Tried this concept last week with another 3 x 8 tomato bed with a soaker hose. Dug a tiny trench, and generously scattered saved calendula seeds in the trench, covered it and within a few days, Calendula sprouts! I am hopeful they will flourish, ward off hornworms and come back for years. They also might find themselves in salads or tea.

A friend told me about Tree Guilds years ago. I set up a series of pots along the path and drip line of purple plum trees. The holes in the pots are drilled in the sides (not the bottom) about an inch up. That allows for a little sub irrigation, and for me to know when the pot is “full”. The water coming out the low side hole is my clue, and this year there is creeping thyme waiting, ready to catch that excess. And down below are tree roots, also happy for the moisture. And happy to return the favor and provide a bit of shade to the pots below.

Creeping time under a purple plum tree, and potted parsley and tarragon.

Lastly is a Jaune Flamme – Yellow Flame tomato plant. It is in a huge nursery pot that had the bottom removed. Dug into the soil so about half the pot is exposed. The pot was filled with happy frog, and the tomatoes growing in these pots do significantly better than the adjacent raised bed.

Chard volunteers next to nursery pot with tomato plant, creeping thyme in the margins.

The soil around them is often damp, so I planted more creeping thyme in the corners, and Swiss chard has stepped up and volunteered in the center front. That area is next on my weeding list. But these plants can stay!

How do you make your gardening life simpler?