1. By: Jessie Keith

    For vegetable gardening, berms are where it’s at. They provide increased aeration and drainage when weather conditions are wet, and encourage deep and expansive root growth to help veggies endure heat and drought. Truly berms are the perfect alternative for gardeners that don’t want to be locked into raised beds or can’t build them.

    Lots of vegetables benefit from friable, bermed soil. Root crops like carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes and rutabagas develop larger, more perfect roots for harvest. And vegetables requiring well-drained soil, like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, will be safe from excess root moisture if planted on berms. And don’t forget melons; those planted in amended bermed beds tend to develop better fruits that are sweeter and more flavorful.

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    So how do you berm? Before berming the soil up, till or deeply turn your soil. Next, establish planting rows or mounds. Once these are set, apply a generous amount of Fafard Premium Organic Compost and work it in until well mixed. Bed berming is best done with a hard rake. Pull and lift the soil up along the planting rows or mounds. This takes a little elbow grease, but the results are well worth it.

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    Once the berms are created, put a layer of removable mulch cloth down and cover that with a layer of seed-free straw or grass clippings. This can help keep weeding down by up to 75%, helps keep moisture in and makes it easier to walk around the garden after a rain.

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    It’s best to use a very lightweight mulch cloth that’s easy to pull away, roll up and reuse the following season.

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    Before the plants are in the ground, the vegetable garden may look like a bumpy straw-covered mess, but once your garden has grown, you won’t even see the berms. Only beautiful garden will shine through.

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    About Jessie Keith


    Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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