Sunday, June 17, 2012

raised garden beds


We debated for quite some time just how to go about preparing the garden area this year.

till? no-till? raised beds? double shovel dug? pigs? hundreds of pots?

It's an odd space where a few established raspberry plants follow the curve of the pond on one side, a rhubarb plant is smack in the middle of the other side, and the straightest part runs along the fence where the neighbor's goats like to hang out. It is altogether rectangular, round, and square at once.

It's quirky. It's windy. It's rocky. And it's prone to the occasional flood. The combination of these factors makes for a space that at one time or another is usually overrun by weeds that have blown in as seeds (but that can't easily be managed because of the apparent rock garden lurking just below the soil surface) - or - appearing to be barren because a flood has just swiftly washed all the topsoil and newly planted seeds straight into the pond (which is what happened during our first spring here).

Raised garden beds seemed to be the best solution for this area, so that's what we've been working on this season. We'd like to move away from tilling in favor of permaculture farming, and I would say this is kind of the intermediate step. I've always had great success growing in raised beds. They're particularly valuable for crops like carrots and potatoes, which like a deep bed of soil to grow down into. Plants can be more tightly packed in the space for this same reason, too. They also give me the illusion that I have neatly managed and contained the outdoor spaces, which I every-so-often like to think I have control over.


We've got two completed and planted out, with enough space, wood, and soil for 6 more to be built, hopefully before the season is up. We squared off the middle of the garden area for the raised bed space, and I've taken to rogue planting on all the outskirts!


I must declare my absolute love of these beautiful beds, made from a cedar wood Craigslist score and hand-crafted by my husband to fit our odd space. They are each 8 feet long by 4 feet wide and 1 foot deep. As a kind of experiment, some will be lined with hardware cloth (to deter burrowing animals, of which we have several around, but don't know if they'll actually be a problem) and a layer of cardboard as a weed barrier of sorts. I also plan to layer cardboard and old hay on all the 3 foot walkways between the beds in an effort to curtail those pesky weeds.


Here are a couple of links we found invaluable in the planning of these beds:

Simple building plans

Cubic yard soil calculator


This serves as a very rugged "before" photo, and I'll be sure to share the "after" when they're all completed so you can see how everything came together! How do you grow stuff in your space?

16 comments:

  1. Well done! :) LOVE, love, love those raised beds... they sound like the perfect solution for your location.

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  2. Well done to you both...they look great! We decided on terraces for ours as we had a lot of bush rock to use and a steep slope to do something with. Still building up the soil though and often think about the idea of raised beds lol! Hope they go well for you xx

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  3. Lovely raised beds! We grow in a combination of raised beds and veggies interspersed in our flower garden. I got Alys Fowler's book 'The Edible Garden' for my birthday and it's very inspirational. good luck with your growing!

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    1. Sounds wonderful. I think that book is on my "list"!

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  4. They look great!! A few years ago when we were living in TN there was an awful, awful flood and the only reason any of our garden was still around after the water went down was the raised beds! Everything we put into the ground just floated away. Good luck this season with your pretty beds!

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  5. Looking at your photos today, reminds me of how surprised I was in the beginning about weed seeds blowing in from everywhere. It is a real struggle where I live to keep the weeds from overtaking everything. I've done the raised beds too!

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  6. I have a rented backyard in DC, so our gardens grow in buckets! Currently we have tomatoes and bell peppers growing, but I'd like to triple the amount of buckets this weekend.

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  7. I like to call what we have "dedicated" beds as opposed to raised beds as they are only 6 inches tall. Just that wooden barrier around the plants makes a BIG difference in holding in the water here in our high desert environment. I think you guys are going to be very happy with your raised beds! Are you utilizing square foot techniques too?

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    1. Hi candy! What are square foot techniques? I guess that means I'm not utilizing them, lol. But I'm betting we should be....

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  8. Your raised beds are amazing. I really love your space.
    My parents have always done raised beds with much success. Our little no dig garden that I put in a few months ago is not faring too well. Might give this method a try.
    x

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  9. Your beds look perfect! Congrats on pulling them together! Cheers to many bountiful harvests!!! :-)

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  10. Thank you for sharing...what wonderful ideas for the raised bed venue! You have such a beautiful space too. Happy gardening this summer!

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  11. Your raised garden are wonderful! I hope you have fun time planting!

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  12. Do you pull out all the weeds that grow yourself or do you leave them? I don't want to use chemicals in my garden. Do you have any other suggestions?

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