A close friend of mine just purchased a new 3 acre home out in the country and it came with an existing 50'x50' garden that seems to have been producing quite well. Since my friend hasn't ever had a garden before, but would like to keep it going he has put me in charge of it. To be honest, I find this a little daunting because other than a few tomato, green bean, and pepper plants, I haven't done to much gardening.
What I am hoping to be able to do is use the garden space to create a sort of community garden that myself and a few of my friends and their families could use to either supplement or provide a portion of veggies to each year. I figure that this will help me with the needed labor of not only planting and harvesting the crops, but also help with weed control a few times during the summer. I have discussed it with a few of my friends and they are open to canning what we can't eat during the harvest portion of each plants cycle so we will have the benefit of using the rewards from the garden throughout the year, or at least part of it.
I am currently trying to come up with a nice layout for the garden that will not only make it easy to maintain by using rows, but also give us the most bang for the buck by utilizing the ground the most efficiently. Eventually I would like to raise the beds so that I will have more control over the garden, but right now that isn't really an option due to costs and the overall size of the garden. (That is a lot of 6x2's or bricks.) I thought with time, I could use the area that I would use for paths as a source for some of the dirt that I would pile up for the raised beds and fill in the paths with wood chips since we have a wood chipper at our disposal. I am also working on coming up with some trellises so that the beans, cucumbers, and melons have a place to grow without taking over the garden.
I have told my friend to start putting his grass clippings and leaves over the garden to decompose throughout the winter and I was going to try and get some horse manure as well. I figure once spring arrives I will be able to till it all under and the garden should be ready for planting!
I know that a compost pile would be nice, but my friend is single and lives alone and I doubt that he will be able to supply a 50'x50' garden with enough composting resources. That is why I was thinking grass and leaves with the horse manure since all three should be easily attainable. I have so many questions and I earnestly wish to have a productive and enjoyable garden for myself and my friends. While I know I could list a 100 questions on here, I thought it might be helpful if I could just get some suggestions right now from all of you. What would you do if you were presented with my situation? How would you start and what are things that you would need to consider before planting begins this spring?