After many, many years of gardening and trying many methods to combat weeds ( Like raised beds, mulches, landscape fabrics, scrap carpet , newspapers, and combinations of those) I have found that "layer "gardening is just about the best method for raising vegetables. The trick to the method is to layer and layer compost and grass clippings and other yard waste in a deep pile 18 to 24 inches thick over the whole garden. You can start with turning over or rototilling your garden spot. Or if you have the time, just start the pile a few months before you plant. You plant through the pile and as the season progresses, and the pile naturally turns to compost/soil , you add more compost and clippings. Few weeds make it to the surface , and if a few do, you can pull them out of the loose soil with ease. One thing that you must not do is to step on the garden soil. Walk- ways are very important. A traditional row garden will work, but I like a circle because of it's beauty and design potential. The circle gardens I have had before had a more formal layout of crossed paths and symmetrical plant layout. The problem with the pie shaped wedges , is that at the "fat" end of the wedge there is always a spot where I just could not reach . More often than not , I wound up stepping on the soil and compacting it. That is when I thought of using a spiral path . Now I can reach both sides of each plant in the garden. No more spots where I have to go" oops! stepped into the garden again !" . As for the paths , I used brick because they are easy to lift and lay in a pattern The garden does not need to be "dug" ever again and after a few seasons in the same place you have a really lush , weed free garden with fantastic soil.
Step 1: Spiral Pattern
The ground has been rototilled in a large circular plot. The compost and clippings have been layered on and the bricks for the walkway have been put down. Early March here in Texas.
Step 2: Plants Are Growing
I put in a simple vegetable plot of Tomatoes, Green and Hot Peppers , Yellow Squash, Eggplant Cucumbers and a blanket flower and One Giant Dandelion .
Step 3: Mom's Helper
I used to use soaker hoses buried in the dirt under the mulch. But one part of weed control is not to water where it is not needed. Now we hand water each plant about once a week.
Step 4: Getting Established
The plants are growing and I have added uprights for the cucumbers to climb. The stepping stone in the foreground is a plain gray stone that has been decorated by hot gluing fish gravel to it. This is the start of third year that the stone has been outdoors.
Step 5: Center of the Garden
I saw baby cucumbers when I took this photo. 3rd week of May.