What an exciting post! This week we cleaned out a front flower bed (usually I add a few veggies with the pretties just for kicks and giggles). A bit of lettuce with the geraniums... And I plan to make or find a large planter for the strawberries before the weekend.
However, your post got me thinking a step farther...compost...and worms! When you plant and harvest, you do have to add goodies to the ground every now and then. I like to feed my plants well so that they feed us well. If you're lucky enough to live near someone who has chickens or goats or horses, you're off to a great start.
My favorite cheating way to keep the garden going is to make one bed into this year's compost pile. I'll layer food scraps, plain old dirt (usually the stuff I dug out so I could start the pile where the roots will live), manure from those neighbors, green or dry plant scraps. All summer I just keep layering, watering and sometimes turning it up a bit. Next year it's an awesome bed of nutrients for those plants that most need a boost.
Mulching -- most of my gardening time has been in the almost desert country. I would use bedding or stomped on hay for mulch; just not bring it right next to the plant stems. Keeps the weeds down (yes, I am not an enthusiastic weeder) and cuts your need to water. Plus the plants get a meal every time you do water.
Worms make compost in a hurry. I had a set of circular worm bins when I had a big garden. We'd get about a gallon of worm castings every week or two plus a batch of "worm juice." I'd use the castings in my soil mixes and dilute the worm juice for hand watering.
How do you guys keep your garden happy and healthy?
From one of my all time favorite authors: "Grub parties are a natural "no-brainer" way for families looking for a way to help their kids make the connection between the food that grows in the ground and the food shows up on the kitchen table. For kids who have grown up in the "Land of Drive-Thru," it can be quite a revelation."