The Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English offers the following definition for patch farming:
1972 Graham County 50 With the first stages of early clearing, the farmer did “patch” farming near the cabin. Many farmers today still speak of a “patch” of corn or other crops. The farmer gradually and systematically extended the patches into wider fields by each year extending his farming into a new area known as a “new ground.”
Back in the day when I first started gardening I read all sorts of books and magazines on the subject. I was fascinated by the articles which showed how much food could be produced in small raised beds. Typically the gardens profiled were in urban settings-where of course there is less square footage to go around for gardening purposes.
In those days, we had even less flat land around our house than we do now-so I thought my narrow little bank tops would be perfect for raised beds. I remember telling Pap about what I had been reading and he got this smile on his face. I said “What?” He said “Why Tip people around here have been growing gardens like that since I was a boy, only nobody called them raised beds. But every wife would have her a little garden patch right close to the house where it’d be handy for her to tend it and for them to eat from it too.”
Then Pap showed me, you don’t have to break the bank to build those little garden patches aka raised beds.
We found some 2-to 3 foot length tree branches The Deer Hunter had cut and thrown in the woods-we formed the sides from them. Pap showed me how to fill the bottom portion of the new patch with leaves-then dig a few buckets full of dark loamy soil from the edge of the woods to put on top.
In the years since Pap first showed me how to form little garden patches-I’ve made them all over the yard-one here and one there-gradually increasing their size and building up the soil all at the same time.
I’ve used all sorts of logs, branches, and rocks to form the sides-basically anything I could find that was handy. And I’ve discovered: if you’re able to fill the patch with 12 inches of good lose dark rich soil like the gardening books tell you to-GREAT. But if you’re like me and you’re really doing good to end up with 3 or 4 inches of so so soil-it still works better than trying to grow vegetables on top of hard packed dirt. And if you’re short on gardening space-those little patches here and there and can boost your vegetable production in an amazing way.
*Source Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English and Pap.