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Compost Ring Garden from BH&G ca. 1973?

Buffalo, NY(Zone 6a)

Years ago my mother used to plant a "Ring Garden" following the directions she found in (I think) Better Homes & Gardens around 1973 (maybe as late as '79).

The center of the ring was a compost bin and the total square footage for the garden was 9-foot by 9-foot.

Around the compost bin of chicken wire, you would plant X# of tomatoes, roses, clematis, pole beans, etc. then other things in the next ring, and lower growers in the outer ring.

I just wondered if anyone does this or recalls/has the article. I have been wanting to plant a couple, but cannot for the life of me find the photocopies I had of the article.

I don't remember how many of which plant to place where, hence my dilemma.

This message was edited Aug 8, 2008 2:43 PM

(Laura) Olympia, WA(Zone 8a)

Sounds interesting... hope someone has the plans.

Mid-Cape, MA(Zone 7a)

WNYWillie, this isn't quite what you were talking about, but there are some similarities, and perhaps this will help a bit as you are collecting more information.


Bardstown, KY(Zone 6a)

Do a search for a "Japanese Tomato Ring"

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7b)

I do remember reading something like that, you might also check Mother Earth. They are an excellent source for all kind of organic gardening ideas on the cheap. LOL

Buffalo, NY(Zone 6a)

I am not even sure it was in BH&G. But, my best guess it that it was.

What I liked is that it was planned so different things supported other things as they grew, etc. It combined flowers and vegetables together to help one another, in a way.

I might have to go to the library (GASP!) reference section and look in some online periodical indexes to find it, as I am sure one of them must have it indexed.

Good thing I got that college education after all, eh??!!!??

Burwash Weald, United Kingdom(Zone 9b)

Does BH&G have an archive service? worth checking - I often find they have a librarian who can do the research for you, or write a letter to the editor - they might find it for you. sounds very interesting.

(Laura) Olympia, WA(Zone 8a)

Laurie - I used to do that, but I don't have access to the resources anymore.

Buffalo, NY(Zone 6a)

There are also "general periodical indexes" to which most large libraries (esp. university) carry subscriptions.

A couple that come to mind are Poole's Index to Periodic Literature and the Reader's Guide to Periodic Literature.

And, seeing as I have a masters degree in Library Science, I suppose I should just go to the library and find it, eh.

Burwash Weald, United Kingdom(Zone 9b)

A master's in library science!!!! You are the font! And here I was trying to direct - sheesh. And Zhinu, you were a researcher, or a librarian, or..........

This message was edited Aug 9, 2008 1:44 PM

Buffalo, NY(Zone 6a)

Yeah ... suppose I should get SOME use outta that sheet of parchment!!


Always love any input or suggestions .... and, btw, Reference Librarians Rock!! (which, I, for one, am not)

Mid-Cape, MA(Zone 7a)

Hi WYW--your search so interesting. I am a reference librarian, recently retired. It was so refreshing to see your references to Poole's and Readers Guide, because nobody looks at these venerable indexes anymore-- because we have supposedly advanced into the Internet Age (not to mention the age of expensive subscriptions to various on-line magazine indexes.) The problem is that these are very much limited by the time period they cover and the periodicals they index--popular titles like Better Homes and Gardens lose out to more "worthy" journal titles and more recent indexes win out over those in the dark ages (like the 1970s.) LOTS of information is lost, and no one realizes it.
I would follow the advice of the other posts: check out the good old Reader's Guide for the relevant period and subject, and if you find the a citation that seems appropriate, ask the folks at BH & G if they have accessible archives of their past issues.

(Laura) Olympia, WA(Zone 8a)

Laurie1 Worked in the periodicals section of Evergreen State Library, just a student job, but reference was down stairs, so we actually answered most of the reference questions as well as those about periodicals. I want to get my Masters in Library Sciences, but I ended up with a family. Its put on hold at least till DSD is older.

Burwash Weald, United Kingdom(Zone 9b)

I have to say I owe a lot to Librarians - I use Senate House library (University of London) regularly, and many a time have they had to steer me into the right aisle (when I have transposed catalogue details) pointed out where the glaringly obvious info which is on the screen, and dusted off some worthy resource or other - dear people, always with a complete air of patience.

Norwood, LA(Zone 8a)

WNY, your ring garden sounds like a good idea. It reminds me of the 3 sisters that native Americans grew, with corn in the center, then beans and squash around the tall corn stalks.
A mostly rotted compost pile in the center of a ring just seems so logical. As it rots down, the nutrients would fan out to fertilize the plants.
I planted a spiral garden this year with a continuous row of compost mulch. Landscape fabric alongside the row(s) lets me walk to the center, where marigolds trap pest insects (I hope). I posted a pic on the vegetable gardening forum under no-till. It's the closest thing I've seen to the round garden design you recall.

(Laura) Olympia, WA(Zone 8a)

maypop - could you post a link? I'm having trouble finding it.

Norwood, LA(Zone 8a)

zhinu, I think this is the link. I've lost the few skills I once had in moving around DG.

My inspiration for the spiral garden comes from some of the permaculture books and writers for Mother Earth News. I wanted to get away from the straight rows and soil disturbance that are part and parcel of modern agriculture. Also the reliance on machinery and chemicals that disrupt the soil's micro-life. I did the hard work when it was cool, ~ Feb. I haven't hoed (that word doesn't look right?) in weeks. Don't need to. All the men I know who garden don't believe in to-till, think they have to huff and puff and run noisy tillers. But I have tomatoes and they don't. Maybe I should call it no-sweat gardening.

Thumbnail by maypop
Mountain Home, AR(Zone 6b)

Hello, mutual admiration society. With all those references, have you found the 'Ring Garden' yet?

I drifted into this forum because I googled 'Ring Garden', primarily because I had landed on a Web site which had one page dedicated to just that subject. It was intriguing but not detailed enough for me to be satisfied, hence the search. It is the same Web site, CapeCodGardener mentioned earlier in this thread, and although he/she thought that it might not be what you are looking for, I am convinced that it is.

Unless you followed CapeCodGardener's suggestion already, I suggest that you do check it out. It will bring you some answers for sure. http://www.homegrowngreens.com/Raeland.htm

It's daytime now and, WNYwillieB, I read your post #5383709 again and came to the conclusion that the 'Ring Garden' suggested by eltex post #5387458 (in reply to your posting in the Vegetable Gardening Forum) may be closer to what you describe than what they show on the 'homegrowngreens' Web site. In either case, 'ring gardening' doesn't appear to be rocket science. A compost bin (3'x3'x3' or a cubic yard) with an opening on the North side should do the trick. Plant the tallest plants closest to the bin and shorter ones in front of them. The compost heap will leach out enough nutrients to feed these plants. How far out? Can't tell until I try it. An added benefit is that the shorter plants shade the bottoms of the taller plants, help prevent weeds from sprouting and keep the soil temperature lower in hotter summer days.

This message was edited Aug 23, 2008 12:37 PM

Rapid City, SD(Zone 4b)

This is what I found in my search for Ring Gardening. Very interesting.

y BRIAN BETHEL / Abilene Reporter-News


A variation on basic "caging" is the Japanese Tomato Ring. You'll need a level, sunny place about 8 feet across to make it work.

Prepare the soil by removing any grass or other plants. Work about a 3-inch layer of organic matter into the soil.

To construct the ring, you will need about 12.5 feet of concrete reinforcing wire and a similar-sized piece of chicken wire. Some flexible wire, such as bailing wire, is needed to wire the ring together.

Form the first circle from the concrete reinforcing wire by attaching the ends together with bailing wire. Next, take the chicken wire and line the formed wire ring.

This second ring is designed to keep composting material, which will be added later, from filtering out.

Set the completed ring over the center of the 8-foot-wide planting circle and anchor it firmly to the ground with four or five metal or wooden stakes.

Start filling the ring with layers of composting material, leaving a depression in the center so that the ring can be watered as plants around it grow.

By watering the ring from the top down, plants will receive a soaking of "compost tea" every time the ring is watered.

Place eight cages, constructed of concrete reinforcing wire, equidistant around the main ring and set tomato plants in each after the average frost-free date.

For frost protection, place a milk jug with the bottom cut out over each plant. Remove once the danger of frost is over.

Mulch around the ring and cages to hold moisture evenly and reduce weeds.

The tomato rung can be used for other crops, such as pole beans.

Rapid City, SD(Zone 4b)

Additional Information on The Japanese Tomato Ring
By: Daniel E
There are several reasons why this occurs, and you can recreate this same growing condition by installing a Japanese tomato ring. ...www.santarosa.fl.gov/extension/articles/japtomatoring.html

Tomato Ring
The Japanese Tomato Ring, which, by the way, has nothing to do with Japan, originated in South Carolina with a postman named Callahan. ...www.pamga.org/Tomato%20Ring.htm

Tons of Tomatoes From A Small Space
Want to grow a ton of tomatoes, but plagued by evil soil or limited space? The Japanese Tomato Ring allows you to grow 5 lush plants in a space 3" x 3", ...

Urban Gardening Help - High Yield Techniques - Small Spaces
Square Foot Gardening and the Japanese Tomato Ring are two gardening methods ... The Japanese Tomato Ring is an unusual growing technique that one gardener ...www.urbangardeninghelp.com/highyield.htm

Japanese Tomato Ring Websites People Who Like Japanese Tomato Ring Sites


hope this helps!!
Happy Composting

Mountain Home, AR(Zone 6b)

Great posts, Polyacre. Almost gave me an inferiority complex.

There apparently is neither consensus on the size of these things nor the number of plants or methods of supporting them. Maybe the Better Homes & Gardens article, if ever found, could become the ultimate authority. One thing is sure, I'll give this method a try, because it sounds like 'just what the doctor ordered' for a lazy tomato gardener.

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