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Country View: Ugly gardening

Living the Country Life Radio Program with Betsy Freese

Versatile technique

She's planted vegetables, flowers, and shrubs, and uses this technique to mulch around her trees. Again, it's not pretty, and you can't expect bumper crops right off the bat, but the results are yummy and the benefits are plenty.

"The quality is a little less at the beginning until you get your soil structure built up, because by doing gardening this way, you're going to get the earthworms, and the beneficial soil organisms coming to help you build up the soil," O'Riley says. "But to tell you the truth I'm not concerned about quality, I'm concerned about conservation, and not pulling weeds, and even if my plants might be lesser quality, I'm still getting more than I can eat."

Sheila has spent hours encouraging others to give it a try, especially kids. After you've raked the leaves this fall, have the kids throw them on the spot where they'll plant their very own garden next spring. When spring arrives, they can plant right into the garden without tilling.

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Learn more:

Best soil amendments: The more you mulch, the better your soil will get over time. Here are some of the best materials to use.

Benefits of vermicomposting: Earthworms can make or break a garden. Learn how to use them to your advantage.

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