We added more plants to the garden last night. We originally started our winter and spring gardens from seed, but decided to add some more plants to the ones that have already sprouted. If all goes well, we hope to be harvesting produce starting next month and lasting until early November for the spring/summer plants.
Our raised beds make gardening super easy. I built our garden out of 2x12s about three years ago. Our previous garden was built out of 2x6s and top soil in 2005. I originally used 2x6s to build the garden so that I could test out my ideas. After a few years, we knew what we liked and what we didn't. I could have rebuilt it out of 2x6s and it would have worked just fine, but I wanted to add a decorative touch to the garden as well, so I used 2x12s. The trellises for climbing plants are made with 1/2" PVC (with rebar inside) and nylon netting. Aside from needing a fresh coat of paint, it is working really well and has held up to the elements.
The bottom of the beds were lined with paper sacks from our local grocery store and filled with compost. I do not have any top soil in the beds, just purchased compost and compost that I have made with my home-made worm composting bin. (That is another post.) I do add composted cow manure or composted chicken manure or other organic compost annually, each February. When our plants have sprouted, we begin adding mulch. We place a 1-2 inch layer of mulch in each bed. The following year, I will turn that mulch into the bed when I add the new compost and allow it to continue to decay and feed my plants.
It took some blood, sweat and tears to get the garden built and functioning the way we want it, but gardening now is so much easier. No plowing, hoeing, row building or weeding. The compost is easy to dig in and does not require any special tools. I will do raised bed gardening from now on. We've liked it so much that two years ago I built an herb bed right off our back patio. I used 2x12s again and made it 2 feet wide and 8 feet long. It faces east and south and is protected by the house on the other two sides.
If you would like to build your own raised bed garden, it is very easy. I suggest starting small and then expanding as necessary. You can use 2x6s or larger. The basic steps are below. I am also including a link to Square Foot Gardening. I found Mel after I originally built my first garden. I read his book and he covers many of the things we learned through trial and error.
Here are the basic steps to build your own garden.
- Find a sunny spot. (6+ hours a day)
- Cut your lumber into lengths of four feet, you will need four pieces.
- Assemble your four pieces into a square. I recommend attaching them together with 3 inch screws. At least 2 screws per joint.
- Place the newly built square in your sunny spot. No need to remove grass or other vegetation, just make sure it is mowed down.
- Line the bottom of your square with paper bags or newspapers (one layer of bags should be enough). You can also use flat cardboard.
- Fill your square with compost or potting soil.
- Plant your plants and water them in.
- Watch them grow.
I will provide some photos of our garden in a later post. However, Mel's site has some great photos illustrating how to build your garden.
Good luck and have fun!
If you have any questions or ideas you would like to share, please drop us a line or stop by the store or post them in the comments below. We are continuing to learn as we go and we are always open to new ideas.