Sunday, April 04, 2010
Preparing Our Raised Beds For Planting Season
We have been so pleased with our spring time weather this year. Sunny here for the last few days. The only trouble is that my husband and I both caught colds and they are really bad. So we don't feel good but we aren't letting that stop us. It is spring and perfect time for getting our raised beds in shape for planting. We can't plant here in New York till around Memorial Day but I like to have it ready so all I have to do is put my plants and/or seeds in the ground.
We do not use a rototiller. In fact, we have never used one or would we. We like to keep our garden as organic as possible. My husband put a bicycle tire on a wheel hoe and that is all he uses to plow our garden. You can use it in a regular garden or in the raised beds. I can use it because it is so light and easy to maneuver. Best of all, is not having gasoline fumes to breathe while you are working..........no gas and no fumes on your garden and plants!
The last two days my husband plowed up a few of the raised beds and added compost to them. Our compost pile comes from our horses. We have three piles. One is the one we add to right now. The second pile is the one we added to last year and is setting this year. The third one is the we use this year because it has already set and composted. It seems to compost pretty quick. The dirt that comes from that compost is very dark, rich dirt. Everything grows big that comes from it.
Our raised beds are a variety of different materials. The wood ones were built from rough cut lumber. Do not use railroad ties as they are not safe to use, since they have been treated and you don't want that around your food. That applies to lumber that is treated not to rot too. I can never understand why people who plant their own food would use unsafe wood to plant their food in. Don't take the chance with it.
I have one raised bed that is made from cinder blocks. That one is a really good bed and the food grows great in it. My friend, Jamie named it "the jurassic bed". The zucchini I grew in that bed was huge! Sometimes I didn't even know it was there, and would come back to see if there was anything to pick yet. And I'd have a huge zucchini! That is okay with me as I love zucchini (a low carb vegetable!).
The rest of the beds are made of rock. Our land is full of rock. When my husband started digging to build our battery room he had the problem of all that rock that he had to move. Well he moved it out back and built me more raised beds. Two of the rock beds I built myself, hauling rocks from the horses' paddock. These beds are our favorites. The rock beds look great and people always comment on them. They are easy to do and we did not use mortar or anything to put them in place. They stay in place pretty good and even with a few feet of snow on them during the winter they don't fall down or anything like that.
Raised beds make gardening easy. For one thing you do not need to plow or wait for someone else to plow your garden for you. Just go out and start digging in it. Or in my case, push the wheel hoe through it. They are good for a wet or a dry climate. So easy to take care of. And you can easily hoop a few of them for your winter garden. In the fall after we pull up the plants we can add leaves to the beds for over wintering. Easy. They can also be built higher up, so that if someone is in a wheelchair they can be comfortable working in the raised beds from their chair. Try building one this spring and see what you think!