We just moved to a new home. Our last home we had a poorly sunlit 10x15 area than never did much. Our new home has a 30x30 or more area with wonderful sunlight, for a garden expansion. :)
We are garden rookies. We just brought a sample of our soil to our local extension office to be tested. We are having our yard torn out in 4 days and want to have the garden space laid out before then. We think we want to do raised beds, but we do not want to put the money in to make several high raised beds. We are thinking to make the whole 30x30 the garden, in one big square. But we are thinking that when the yard is torn up, we will lay a 30x30 cinder block square, then have the dirt and sod around it. This would bury appx 3 inches of the 8 inch blocks, leaving 5 inches above ground. We would fill with recycled yard dirt, a couple trucks loads of compost from our city compost day, and some various other manure, peat moss, and personal compost.
My question....is it okay to make this one big block? We will obviously be walking in it to tend to the garden, but with it being lightly raised, will is mess anything up?
Suggestion on how to best maximize the space?
Well you don't really need the blocks. 30 x 30 is a good sized space for a garden. I always like planting annual flowers around the perimeter (zinnias, cosmos, marigolds). What I usually do (I have a similar space) is make unenclosed raised beds in the big garden and then mulch the paths. Just dig the paths and throw the dirt to either side to make the bed. Some beds are only 4x8 and some are 4x15. This allows you to work on a little at a time and work from either side of the bed. I go to the sawmill and get a load of mulch ($20). Don't skimp on the mulch because your paths will get weedy.
If you get it dug up in time this year I'd go ahead and put down some clover (crimson) as a cover crop to till in next spring. If you're anxious to grow food this year you may have time for greens (mustard,kale,turnip,collards). Just try not to leave the ground bare, if you have no time to plant just spread some mulch or leaves on top.