Protecting soil structure

garden ©Janet AllenPermanent beds and paths in our garden

One reason our soil is so nice is that, besides adding a lot of compost, we started our garden by forming permanent raised beds separated by paths.

That means that we NEVER step on the soil where we're growing fruits and vegetables. The structure of the soil is as important as what's added to it, and the most damage is done by the first step.

The paths may look overly wide in the photo, taking up too much of the precious space in the garden, but this photo was taken in May before things started growing. By September, the paths don't look too wide at all!

Stepping stone ©Janet Allen
Stepping stone

If we need to step on the soil for some reason or to create a way to quickly get to the other side of the bed, we lay down a stepping stone or an old board. Sometimes these are permanent and sometimes we use a board temporarily, for example, just to distribute our weight.

At any rate, we try to keep adding these things to a minimum.

Old rototiller ©Janet Allen
Our old rototiller

Why is this an old photo from back in the days when we first started gardening in our first house?

It was a beautiful, expensive machine, and was fun to use but we developed such good soil that it was so easy to work with we no longer needed the assistance of a machine.

Years later, we learned that tilling destroys the soil structure, so we're glad we sold it.