A blank canvas and a spade for a brush

Published on Thu, Apr 25, 2002 by Meg Olson

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A blank canvas
and a spade for a brush

By Meg Olson

Spring offers gardeners a blank canvas. A clean, empty bed is more than space to line up your lettuces. Seeds and transplants can be more than the start of a fine summertime salad, but the brushstrokes that paint tasty pictures in your garden. Throw in a few items picked up for a quarter at the thrift store and a vegetable patch can be as eye-appealing as the flower beds in Peace Arch park.

Break out of the lines. Vegetables don’t need to grow in rows. Try dividing a square bed into quarters with stripes of parsley or dwarf marigolds. In each of the four boxes, plant something different: red-leafed lettuce, romaine, spinach, and beets, for example.

A sunshine bed is convenient and different. Draw a circle of carrots in the center of a rectangular bed and put tomato plants inside the circle. Lines radiating out from the edge of the circle can separate bush beans from turnips and radishes from lettuces – Bright Lights chard makes beautiful rays for your sun. The outer vegetables and salad greens, often with shorter growing periods than the tomatoes, are easily accessible along the edges. Outline a path with the halves of broken dinner plates to guide you into the tomato patch.

Broken plates are only the beginning of the garden treasures you can find for pennies. Old forks make perfect stakes – put a card identifying what you’ve planted between the tines and stick the handle in the ground.

Upend an old glass mixing-bowl to become a mini-greenhouse that will protect tender seedlings. Outlines and vertical supports, the foundation of a garden bed, don’t need to be traditional, or expensive.
Think of the shape you need, close your eyes and think where you’ve seen that shape before. It’s easier to find than you think.


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