1.) First of all, serious gardening is a part of the Amish/Mennonite DNA. Generation upon generation take on serious gardening to provide for the everyday sustenance of their own family so it is not a frivolous or fringe activity. They don't just do it if they happen to have time. They do it because it is a wise investment (not wholly accounted in dollars and cents) of their time, Garden culture has been passed unbroken for many generations so when a new family starts out on their own both husband and wife have a substantial amount of knowledge and experience from which to draw upon. More than likely they are not "starting from scratch" when they put out their first garden.
2.) On the traditional Amish farm the kitchen garden is primarily the responsibility of Mrs. Amish. While the men work the fields, Mom and kiddos care for the garden. Mrs. Amish is not distracted by a career outside the home and there are often quite a few sets of "little hands" that can help lighten her gardening load.. Because Mrs. Amish is always home and because there is usually a few kids that need productive work to do - a lot gets done, often in a short amount of time.
3.) Even Amish "homesteads" (homes without the traditional big farm) have very extensive and productive gardens. The reason for this is that even though they may not have a big farm, they still own, at the very least, a "buggy horse". And this one buggy horse makes a tremendous amount of manure. The manure, in time, makes wonderful garden compost and aged compost is the foundation of the best gardens. (Speaking of Amish "homesteads" - I saw an interesting sight a few weeks ago. I was driving through a small residential neighborhood, in Lancaster Co, when something caught my eye - a milk cow in someone's back/side yard ! ! I was passed before it really hit me, but evidently here was a (presumably) Amish family living on what looked like and acre or less but they thought it important to have their own milk cow even though they didn't live on a big farm.). My experience tells me that composted stable manure is the best thing there is for a productive garden and the Amish/Mennonite folks usually have a ready supply no matter if they live on a big farm, a smaller "farmette" or just have a house and carriage barn. The bottom line is "it's all about the composted stable manure".
They are in cages and staked but they are planted to close together therefore resembling a mini jungle. Oh well - guess there is always something to try and improve on next year.
Overall I am pleased with the garden this year (other than the fact that I didn't pay close enough attention early on and the deer ate off almost half of the new green bean seedlings.) The main difference is that this years garden is reaping the benefits of liberal doses of stable manure applied to the soil both last fall and this spring. I can tell a significant difference. The soil is much more "mellow" (softer) and easier to work. Even though we have not had a lot of rain, the increased organic matter in the soil holds the moisture better than soil lacking in organic matter. And here's a puzzler - the weeds seem to be significantly less this year. I do cultivate the rows regularly but the weeds are not coming up between the plants (where I would normally have to do a lot of hand weeding) as vigorously as they usually do. Did the added organic matter somehow play a role in a reduced weed population? Don't know, but I'm enjoying fewer weeds nonetheless.
Even though neither I nor my garden are Amish I still regard them as my gardening hero's. A tip of the old ball cap to them! ! Thanks for giving me something to shoot for.
Thanks again for reading. I count it a privilege that anyone would take the time to read of my rural ramblings. Keep your hands in the dirt my friends! !