Lawrence bought 17” diameter black plastic pipe, cut it in half lengthwise, and set it in the ground, concave side up. He filled the pipe halves with soil, and planted watermelon, kale, lettuce, and tomatoes in them. The idea was that the pipe would serve as a mulch, so to speak, retaining water against drainage, and suppressing weeds.
If anything, the technique worked too well. The summer of 2000 turned out very rainy, and Lawrence’s vegetables succumbed to inundation. Lawrence still feels the idea is valid, and could work well in a dry year; the problem is, of course, anticipating what the weather will be.