I strongly dislike weeding. Have I mentioned that tidbit yet? I mean, we're bordering on hate here. That is how much I don't like to weed. So I found the best solution to this problem to date. I raised all my garden beds. Yup, you heard me (sort of), I raised those little stinkers up and now life is good. I originally used some old stuff I had laying around, old shelving, that kind of stuff. Then it fell apart, so I rebuilt them and used 2x12 lumber. See, I am always learning. It is a process in my world. This last year I expanded the 7 raised beds to 12 raised beds. The edge if each bed is set on weed cloth (love that stuff:) and the center part is dirt all the way down and beyond. No weed cloth inside the beds, just in the path areas. I then used bark to make these paths prettier and viola, I have ease and convenience. I like those two things together. I still weed, but given my slight case of OCD, I now can weed to completion, one bed at a time. This works way better for my "issues". I have a map here of the set-up I use, (I got the map idea from Dave at http://thehomegarden.blogspot.com/ as hand drawing one didn't seem too interesting for my one reader to look at). I have now had this raised bed garden in use for 4 years and I can tell you it has freed me, literally. It is also a fantastic way to garden if your soil is less than ideal. You can mix up any kind of soil your little heart desires.
I originally filled them with pure compost on the recommendation of the local certified organic gardener. She doesn't work outside of the home. Lesson learned: Don't copy people with way too much time on their hands, garden wise. I couldn't water it enough to keep it wet. Year two, I added Miracle grow garden soil to the compost in each bed and they held just the right amount of water to keep things alive nicely. I still amend the soil every spring and between spring and fall plantings, but life is definitely easier. Next spring I will add custom drip systems to each bed. Lesson learned #2: water is at a premium in dry Idaho. I have used sprinklers on timers but watering the paths seems senseless to me, well-water or not. So in keeping with the spirit of conservation, onto the next project.
The beds vary in size from 4x10 (a little too big), down to 40"x48". The six in the center are roughly 3x6 and that seems to be the best for me.
I can't recommend a more efficient method of gardening for a variety of reasons. There are some things that I don't think grow very well in beds like these but not many. We will be adding a 100'x40' row garden in the north field this coming year because my husband thinks I don't have enough to keep me busy now. In this nightmare to be (remember I dislike weeding), we will grow corn, melons, cucumbers, etc. Things that get unruly in neat and tidy raised beds. It may also be the only year for the row garden. We will see how much Doyle likes to weed.