First garden beds of the season 30' by 5'
That may not seem like anything unusual but is actually big news for me. Two years ago I overdid it with about 1500 square feet of tilled beds and many container beds. This was the unintended result of going to a late Winter seed swap. I could not seem to restrain myself, so last year I did not go.
The season grew very hot, very dry, and then very wet, before being dry again. I just gave up. Whatever survived the weeds, great, but if they had an issue, Nature worked it out. Most of the containers were dug up by the dogs or cats and I did not have the energy or desire to do more.
Something has spiked my interest in gardening again and I tilled two 150 squ. ft. beds yesterday. I plan on doing one more the same size, then one about half that size and then my raised beds, but I wanted these two so the freeze and thaw of Winter could break the soil up a little more. Plus, early Spring is usually wet and I would not be able to till without a big mess.
As you see from the picture, I left a lot of room between the beds. In the past, I would till every available foot of soil, then dig out walking paths, in which I put newspaper and wood chips. Two years ago I used carpet scraps and the grass/weed roots penetrated them so well that when I pulled them up this year, it was a real tug of war.
Why did I not just leave them as walkways? Because I was not trying to squeeze garden beds in tight succession and that meant the tiller was going to till in those walkways. The carpet wreaks havoc in the tiller tines. Besides, I also want the walkways wide enough to run the riding mower over them. All in all, I would not use carpet scraps again. Paper to block weeds and wood chips will be just fine since they can be easily tilled back into the soil.
Last year, instead of tilling, I grew about 8 container gardens including three bathtubs and only did that because a friend gave me some tomato plants and my mother-in-law wanted some oriental vegetables.
This year I have started some garlic in containers (outside) and will start some Chinese cabbage, eggplants and some peas. From there, I will MAYBE do more, we’ll see. At the back ends of these beds I will put about 50 squ.ft.of wildflowers for beneficial insects and birds.
Whatever I do needs to exclude a lot of digging or moving of the soil by hand. My body will not handle it anymore and I do not tolerate the heat well, so most of the physical stuff needs to be done BEFORE hot weather. In Tennessee, that could be a day after the last frost, so I have to be ready.