Appalachia Gardening

Alternative Gardening

How to make an easy garden area cheaply
Both Jerry and Sue’s comments on the Garden or Lawn? post reminded me of a recent article I read in Carolina Country-the monthly magazine sent out by the Electrical Cooperative. John Bruce, who wrote the article, detailed several different methods of gardening for folks who don’t have access to a large piece of ground-or who need/want an easier way to garden. These alternative methods to traditional style gardening are often called “no dig gardening”. The No-Dig Gardening website has tons of information on the subject-especially on using raised beds that are made out of several different layers of organic material.

The same issue of Carolina Country-also contained an article on straw bale gardening written by Kent Rogers. Basically the concept works by putting a layer of compost/dirt on top of a straw bale and planting your crops in the bale itself. (if you click on the words in orange-you can read the whole article)

Container gardening is a good option for folks with limited room. A good friend of mine-had a fine container garden of spinach, cucumbers, and green peppers-all grown on her deck last summer-it was such a success she’s hoping for a repeat performance this summer.

Sue’s comment-led me to discover container gardening has taken on a whole new meaning. When Sue mentioned Global Buckets-I had to know what she was talking about-she sent me here-to the Global Bucket Website. The Global Buckets System uses 2 five gallon buckets-one placed inside the other-to make a garden system along with an irrigation system for the plants. It seems so easy to make-and the pictures show amazing production-I’m tempted to give the system a try myself.

One year we tried a topsy turvy upside down tomato planter-but it didn’t work very well for us-maybe we didn’t do it right. If I remember we got 1 tomato from the plant. We have had huge success with raised beds. A few years ago I made several long narrow raised beds in the top portion of our garden-I wasn’t thinking of increased production-I was thinking about neatness. I thought if I made the beds-it would be easier to harvest the vegetables and the garden would look neater too. What I discovered-was how much better the plants grew and produced. We didn’t buy any material for the beds-I used cut lengths of logs for the sides-and I dug dirt out of the woods for the beds-and I added leaves/mulch on top.

Hope you’ll leave a comment and tell us any experiences you’ve had with alternative gardening methods.



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  • Reply
    April 17, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Love the ideas!
    I have been looking for different gardening ideas. Thanks!!!

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    April 16, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    I’ve heard of some of those, but haven’t tried but one. The bucket method sounds most interesting since I hate weeding more than anything. We’ll probably do just the regular garden. We have a lot of room, so we don’t need to use any alternate methods, but I like the idea of no weeding if I can talk my hubby into it.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    April 15, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Mitchell just bought 3/4 ton 1971 Ford-think I’ll grow us a BIG garden in it!

  • Reply
    April 15, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    we have a lot of non traditional gardens here. if it holds a growing medium I use it to grow in. I have wick gardens that use old soda cans and clothing and a top coat of compost, i grow in gutters, bathtubs, hot tubs, crockpots,boots and even fans, i grow in straw, lasagna beds , terraces, raised beds and grow inside as well as in the GH year round.. aquaponics is my nest foray… and no i have no real need to use alternative methods of growing, just a fun hobby

  • Reply
    April 15, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Miss Cindy-only in warm weather. But you should check yours-I’ve already gotten some from mine this spring : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    April 15, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I am fascinated by the Global Bucket method of growing vegetables and will be off to Home Depot shortly to get a few buckets and some soil. I’m thinking bell peppers and jalapeños.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 15, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Tipper, there are some very good ideas here. I especially like the hay bale idea. Never thought about being able to grow without dirt, or with very little dirt.
    I bet you could even put a row of those hay bales in a hoop house/green house and grow things through the winter!
    Will our mushroom logs produce mushrooms year round, once they begin producing or will they only produce through the warm weather?
    Spring sure is an exciting time of year!

  • Reply
    Joey @ Big Teeth & Clouds
    April 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I had a tomato plant in a pot when we lived in an apartment. The sad thing about going that route is that you often don’t have a choice as to where to put the pot. Mine didn’t get enough sun and I scored one tomato that never ripened.

  • Reply
    April 15, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Because we go through tires like water (because of the gravel roads here,) we don’t pay the garage to have the tires hauled away — we take them home and use them for planting herbs. They work great. You can stack one on top of the other for a larger planter. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    April 15, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Tipper–I guess I’m too much of a traditionalist to try these “yuppie” or “I ain’t got no room” approaches, although they obviously can be effective if you garden on a small scale. I don’t, and will once again have two–one in Bryson City and a second here at home. In fact, we are already eating asparagus here and the Bryson City garden will have lettuce in ten days or so, with spinach, mustard, and turnip greens not far behind.
    Large or small, I suspect we’ll see a renaissance in gardens in the mountains and elsewhere this year and in those to come. The way this country, its leaders, and the economy is going, all of us better be looking to the traditions of self-preservation and make do with what you’ve got (or can grow, shoot, catch, or harvest from nature). I hope I’m wrong, but I have a very healthy dose of mountain skepticism to me when it comes to things like our national leaders, growing debt, and the like. Anyone with gumption can raise a garden, and finding a patch of ground to sow ain’t all that hard in the high country.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    April 15, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    the bucket video are cool, will show them to hubby. he has his bucket garden, but only one bucket. love jerry’s comment and might just do that with our truck when we can no longer afford insurance and gas. great post and one we may all need in the next year

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    April 15, 2011 at 11:23 am

    We have been raising vegetables in raised beds for years…even before we quit our big family garden. We love it and gardening this way is easier to keep weeds in check and easier to mulch,feed etc..
    I was canning and freezing lots due to feeding three hungry ball playing guys.
    Short story: I pickled just about anything that could be pickled..
    A favorite was pickled green beans, okra and squash. The boys always wanted a jar opened right away, but I waited a few weeks before opening so the pickled flavors would be better.. I thought I had canned bunches but as I went to the basement with canned food it seemed that there was less and less on the shelves?
    Much like a hiker finding a “white lightning” jar in the woods, I found my pickled vegetable jars! Yep, the hungry boys were slipping in the basement helping themselves, when playing outside! I thought a four legged varmint was carrying them off. It wasn’t until they were a few years older they ‘fessed up to being the bandits.
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    April 15, 2011 at 11:10 am

    We have about eight raised beds — they’re very productive — in addition to our regular garden.

  • Reply
    April 15, 2011 at 9:52 am

    About 2 years ago I tried my
    luck with tomatoes in 5 gallon
    buckets. Had more tomatoes than
    I knew what to do with and gave
    many away, including the big
    green ones for frying. Only thing
    is you have to water ’em about
    every day. This is where I got the
    idea for the Tomato Hanger Units.

  • Reply
    April 15, 2011 at 9:32 am

    LOL. I like the truck bed idea! It gets used for something!

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    April 15, 2011 at 9:32 am

    I bought a pack of lettuce seeds back in February because I was over-eager as usual. It was still too wet and cold to get in the garden so I finally sowed the seeds in a flower box that was left on the carport from last summer. I moved it over near the edge where the sun could hit it and the rain could blow in and now I’ve got the dangedest lettuce crop I’ve ever had! I’ve been eating lettuce for a couple of weeks already.

  • Reply
    April 15, 2011 at 8:54 am

    I like the pickup truck bed idea! If you had a chance of frost you could park your garden in the garage overnight!
    John Pallister
    Twitter @PointlessPicks

  • Reply
    April 15, 2011 at 8:31 am

    All great ideas. going back to the websites now to read more. We were just in Kentucky -everyone was going dry land fishing -mushrooming
    I thought i had heard it all but this one was new

  • Reply
    April 15, 2011 at 8:19 am

    I also read recently to made raised beds from hay bales by making a square (open in the middle) with 4 bales. Dirt was added to the opening in the middle. Stuff was planted in the dirt & inside the hay itself. It looked very cool.

  • Reply
    April 15, 2011 at 8:17 am

    We have raised beds made from logs too. (I think) that we made raised beds to help with weed control & to make it easier to seperate the good soil from the red clay. Our dirt is a mixture of decomposed cow poo (Brasstown Beef – fancy!) & sawdust from Buckhorn. Last year was our 1st attempt at it & it was great. JD just put in some things yesterday. He’s so excited.

  • Reply
    April 15, 2011 at 6:46 am

    A few years back we planted tomatoes and peppers in a straw bale garden. My dad had read about it in the same magazine. Two bales of straw, a wood frame to hold it together, seeds and a little soil. We couldn’t keep up with all the produce from those things. We had to give away a bunch of it, ’cause we couldn’t eat it all.

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