Vegetable gardening shouldn't be hard work. Look at all of the abundance that mother nature grows, do you see her out digging, weeding, pruning, fertilizing? No, of course not! Natural systems do all of the work and synergistic vegetable gardening puts those systems to work in your garden, producing a bountiful harvest the natural way.
So how do you get started building a synergistic vegetable garden?
# 1. Build raised beds. You don't need to build wooden frameworks and fill them with soil. Just create long mounds of soil about 4 feet wide and 10 – 30 inches high. Flatten the top of the mound.
# 2. Cover the mound with mulch. This can be a mixture of materials – straw, shredded cardboard, sheeps wool, leaves, sawdust, shredded branches, newspaper etc.
# 3. A few days before you are ready to start planting open the mulch on top of the bed to allow the soil to warm up.
# 4. Plant seedlings in the bed and close the mulch back up around the plants. Seeds are planted in the same way.
# 5. Place beneficial plants – called companion plants – through out your garden. You can plant them into the sides of the beds. Marigolds, will for example protect your plants from nematodes.
# 6. Do not use compost on your garden or add fertilizer. It is not necessary and causes harm to the soil.
# 7. When it is time to harvest from your garden, cut plants off just above the soil and leave the roots in place. All of the vegetation that is not used should be placed on top of the mulch right where that plant was growing.
# 8. Never walk on your beds, till them or dig them.
# 9. Weeding is still necessary at first, but due to the mulch the amount of weeds will be greatly reduced. Over time as the mulch builds up, less weed seeds will find there way to the soil.
# 10. Water the beds during dry spells. The mulch prevents a hard surface developing on your soil which leads to water run off. The mulch also reduces evaporation. A hummus rich soil holds onto water, making it available to the plants for longer.
So there you have the basics in a nutshell. The idea of synergistic gardening is to mimic a system which builds the soil naturally. It is the bacteria and earthworms in our soil that create this fertility through their life processes. We do not need to interfere with a process that nature has perfected. When we do, we just create more work for ourselves along with reduced soil fertility.