The other day I was researching various solutions to create (relatively) weed-free paths between gardens for easy maintenance around our new raised beds. Stepping stones, pavers and mulch are a few options but something new I discovered is salt hay. It is a grass harvested in marshes along the coast that contains no weeds.
My Google search for salt hay was varied. Some critics mentioned damage to the coast due to harvested salt hay and it was noted that use of this for mulch and weed-free paths was not environmentally friendly. Note: Do more research here.
Another search result — which sent me in another direction — led to today’s post: Martha’s Vegetable Garden called Cantitoe Corners. Martha Stewart (or her gardener?) uses salt hay, apparently, so Google sent me her way. Whether or not Martha is prone to using salt hay even if it is a destructive practice (again… more research), I was intrigued by her beautiful garden, its practical layout and the few tips and tricks worthy to share and archive here.
First, I took note of the 7-foot metal fence to keep hungry critters out. And I was impressed with the extensive notes recorded to insure proper crop rotation. Other highlights taken directly from MarthaStewart.com include the following:
Row by Row
Martha’s Homes Martha’s vegetable garden was laid out with rigorous geometry to yield maximum results and easy access. The major cross-axial paths are 10 feet wide and can accommodate a garden cart or a pickup truck. Each row of vegetables is 30 inches wide, and the paths between them are 12 inches wide, which makes it simple to hoe and weed from both sides. To minimize weeds and retain moisture, each row is mulched with salt hay, a grass harvested in marshes along the East Coast that contains no weed seeds.
A Dibble Designed by Martha
This dibble, inspired by the one Martha saw in her friend David Rockefeller’s greenhouse, is used in the garden beds to make evenly spaced holes for crops such as lettuce and Asian greens
Collars of heavy paper are pushed into the soil around a ‘Romanesco’ cauliflower and the other brassicas to keep cutworms at bay. They are removed when the danger from cutworms has passed.
A Great Pumpkin
Clean straw is slipped below each pumpkin and winter squash to keep them from rotting and to put them out of reach of soil-dwelling insects.
Images and captions © 2011 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. All rights reserved.