I took advantage of the 70 degree weather this weekend and got outside to build my two new raised bed gardens.
A couple years ago I started my first raised bed garden, shortly after discovering and reading All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. I was surprised when I was able to harvest lettuce, beans, peas, and spinach out of a simple 4′ x 4′ square made from a couple 2″ x 6″ boards.
Square foot gardens can be as simple or elaborate as your imagination will allow. I have seen pictures of waist high gardens filing a yard, as well as a few tires piled up with vegetables pouring out of them. Keeping with the design of my first plot, I built two additional 4′ x 4′ beds. This year I used redwood instead of doug fir. Redwood is more durable and will remain intact a few more years than the doug fir.
Building the beds is pretty simple. When you buy the wood, have them cut it in 4′ pieces. Then screw the four pieces together to make a square frame.
The next step is filling the frame with soil. The book suggests 1/3 each peat moss, vermiculite, and compost. My first year, I used pure compost with good results. This time I mixed in a half bag of vermiculite and a full bag of peat moss in each frame. I will post the comparisons of the mixture vs. pure compost in the fall.
I found that using my hands was the easiest way to mix the soil.
Three raised beds ready for seed planting.
Annual maintenance on raised beds is easy. Since you do not walk on the soil there is no compaction so no tilling. Just remove any remaining plant waste from the previous year, add some compost and re-mix. I hope to add another bed every year as I become more familiar with the types of food that grow best in my climate and more daring with different varieties. Now that the beds are ready, I can’t wait until I can start putting those seeds into the ground.
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