Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Garden Savvy-Raised Beds

Regardless of what mother nature is handing me today, I went ahead and ordered corner brackets to build 3 more raised beds. Last year was the first time I tried raised bed gardening and now expanding the franchise, because I love it!.
These movable brackets attach to Hemlock boards. My beds are 4' wide and 8' long and are workable at every side. Weeding is a breeze, and mulching and watering is conservative at best. It only takes about 20 minutes to assemble the frame, but a lifetime to fill with dirt-he,he. 
Filling your beds is challenging. If you have a tractor with a bucket and have access to old compost or dirt, man are you lucky. If you don't have a tractor with a bucket, it takes longer to fill with bags of soil. It is like sandbagging along the Mississippi only the other way around. Be prepared to dole out some cash if you plan on buying dirt. You will be surprised how much yardage of dirt you need to fill these beds.  
Another method is to get the kids to do it with a plastic shovel.
No really, get someone with a tractor and bucket to help fill your raised bed. Or buy a dump truck load of good top soil. Soil is the foundation to every garden, and vegetables require specific nutrients. It might be a good idea to be as basic as you can from the start, make a soil test, and add later.
After building the raised bed, the fun begins. It is so easy to hoe, weed, water, fertilize, and watch your plants grow. Haven't done a study on this yet, but noticed a reduction with bugs. And I did stick a small wire looped fence around the inside of the bed to keep the rabbits and chickens out; I could take it out and replace it easily.
If you plan on having more than one raised bed, build them one at a time, and space them about 3-4' apart so that you can get the lawn mower in between the beds, or if you are industrious, place patio blocks or heavy mulch to cut the weeds down. You can make this into a garden paradise. So now is the time to assemble that Adirondack chair.
If you want to make a green house out of your raised bed it is so easy- Drill holes at a slant to fit 3/4 inch PVC pipes to cross over like a chuck wagon, and then put heavy duty plastic over to cover and hold with 2x4s nailed on the front and back. Leave room to be able to get in and out. This works out great to harden off your seedlings, and be right there to transplant...just remove the plastic when ready for summer.
Good luck.
The book that inspired me, and I still use as a reference is  "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew. The other raised bed Bible is "The Victory Garden" It is a large book full of great ideas for container gardening.

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