6 Benefits of Steep Slope gardening
- As the garden is south-facing it receives the afternoon sun for several hours - heat loving tomatoes love this
- Heat is retained in the 4 foot garden walls keeping the soil warm into the evening
- Water drains very well and no soggy spots in the garden
- Frosts occur more in the valley below and not in the garden
- Two of the beds are accessible from below with the garden at waist height. This is perfect for easy weeding and getting up close for insect patrol
- Tiered gardens require a lot more walking than a flat open space which equals more exercise
Concerns with Steep Slope Gardening
- Moving large plants, containers, compost or soil can be difficult as the terraces are not wheelbarrow accessible. Compost and soil have to be moved in buckets
- Containers dry out very quickly and sometimes have to be watered twice per day
- The greenhouse is not accessible by wheelbarrow, again creating extra effort moving dirt and compost
- Material used to make raised beds is often preserved wood. Brick and concrete may be a viable option. Old railway ties are usually covered in creosote and not advisable to use
- Building reinforced walls can be costly depending on materials used and if you can do your own labour
- Our four level terraced gardens trap the hot afternoon sun. The fruit trees are in full sun much of the day. They are all great fruit producers
- Narrow paths along the retaining walls are great for gardening all year and occasionally containers are placed on the path to maximize garden space
- The mulched garden also retains the moisture in the soil
- Use natural or reclaimed materials to build your terrace retaining walls - "Ecologically Sensitive Materials for School Landscapes"
- Creosote: Report about Toxic Trail & Safer Alternatives, Beyond Pesticides
Grow what you can with the area that you have. I have dug up an area of level lawn to extend the garden for more raspberry, squash or tomatoes. If you can increase the size of your vegetable garden it will be a bonus. There is never enough room to rotate crops as much as required which is why tomatoes in particular are grown in fresh composted soil every year.
Gardening on a steep slope may not be the perfect garden especially for those with physical limitations it may be impossible. Take your time and plan, and add a little more garden each year, if you have the space, and enjoy "the fruits of your labours". Happy gardening!
~ Chinese proverb