"When we moved in, the yard was just a big, green bowling alley: bare except for grass all the way from the house to the rear fence," recalls Marcia. She located the vegetable garden at the back of the lot because it is the only spot that receives the minimum 6 hours of direct sunlight a day most vegetables need.
"Gardening starts with the soil," says Marcia. She is fortunate to garden with one of the most productive soil types in New York: the fertile, well-drained Honeoye loam. She carefully prepared the soil before planting and continues to make every effort to keep it healthy and productive. Soil-improving practices are even more important if you are starting with poor soil.
Flowers and food crops mingle in Marcia’s beds, like these marigolds and broccoli plants. "Mixing them is as much for aesthetics as anything else," she says. In some combinations, the hodge-podge of sights and scents may confuse and deter insect pests looking for food crops.
The paths provide plenty of room to maneuver a wheel barrow around the garden. "Some of the best advice I've ever gotten about garden design was to be sure you give yourself enough elbow room," suggests Marcia.
To make the most of space in the planting beds, Marcia often plants "relay crops." For example, scallion seedlings are up and growing and will take over space left when Marcia harvests the nearby carrots.