One of our farmer friends, Pat, invited us to his farm so we could check out his terrace farming. It was interesting to see how all of the land available was being used to produce vegetables or some type of crops while also preventing soil erosion.
Terracing is basically grading steep land, such as a hillside, into sections of levels. Terrace farming has been used for thousands of years and is a really effective farming method. For example, in Peru terrace farms are built to use the shallow soil efficiently and to enable irrigation of crops. The Incas used a system of canals and aqueducts to direct the water through the levels and increase the fertility.
Many people prefer having a vegetable garden on a flat area and making most use of the land that way. However, for many people that is not always the case. An example is St. Vincent, where there are too many mountains to count and it can be very steep. For this reason, many people have to grow their vegetables on the hillside.
Remember, there are different degrees of slopes. This will have an effect on the irrigation. It is always best to plant the vegetables across the slope using contour rows, terraces, or raised beds. To build up the terraces you can use old wood, bricks or stones, as well as just using the soil to create the beds you want. As an extra prevention against soil erosion a great tip is to plant vetiver grass along the ends of each bed.
When planting on a slope make sure that you make good use of the microclimates. Also, make sure to have the terrace on the south side, to maximize the sunlight. South facing slopes are warmer and less likely to suffer from frost. On top of hillsides it will be warmer and dryer than the bottom of the slope. Therefore, you should keep in mind plants that thrive in these environments. For the bottom part it will be cooler and wetter. Plants that like a moist environment should be planted along the bottom.
If interested in starting your own terrace garden, check out this link and follow instructions:
Further reading of terrace vegetable beds: