The weather lately is becoming even more reliable for gardening. I now have potting soil and plenty of little containers for starting seeds.
As soon as the raised beds are ready, I will have the little plants ready to transplant. In previous years, the last frost occurred in late
April. With the mild winter we had, our planting season began a month earlier than usual. Already some families have planted their root crops
and a few salad greens. It seems unusual to me to think that in mid-April I am already behind in my garden planting.
This year, we are doing our garden in a completely new way. We are switching to the method of raised beds. One reason being that
it will be far less work for me to maintain. I won’t have to bend down or get on my knees in the garden to weed or manage the plants. The
second reason is that we will have more control over the critters that like to use our garden as their personal buffet. We are recycling old
shipping crates and pallets to make the garden. The garden beds will be about waist high and lined with the leftover black weed barrier plastic
from last year. The plastic will hold in the dirt while still allowing the extra water to drain through.
I have a copy of Mel Bartholomew’s book, Square Foot Gardening, which I bought last summer. In the book, he gives his “recipe” for a no-weed soil planting mixture. It contains peat moss, vermiculite, and composted soil. The peat moss and vermiculite loosens the soil as well
as providing retaining moisture. This is a big concern if you live in a drought area. The composted soil provides nutrients the plants need. One of the best parts of his soil mixture is that it makes the gardening much easier to manage. You have a relatively weed-free garden. The only weeds that it may produce are those grown from seeds that may have blown into the raised bed on a windy day. I used the square foot gardening method years ago when I lived in an upper desert region. It was very successful. I had a much larger harvest than when I tried gardening in the traditional way. This year’s garden may be much smaller than I would have planted in the ground, but as we are able to add more raised beds, I will have an expanded garden area to use.
An extra benefit to this garden is that my husband is having it set up as a fence line along one side of the children’s play yard. We are going to
let each of them plant a few vegetables in their own little garden beds. Our youngest daughter and oldest grandson, who are both 6 yrs old, have each picked out a couple of favorite vegetables that they would like to plant. I am excited to watch them plant and tend their little garden areas. It will be fun to see them get excited about the plants blooming and producing the veggies.
Having this growing fence line is such a wonderful idea. My darling husband is such a clever man to think of it! We plan to plant cherry tomatoes and possibly some strawberries that the children can snack on if they get hungry while playing in the yard. Both our little girl and grandson love strawberries and cherry tomatoes. Who knows? We may end up having to plant a strawberry bed and a cherry tomato plant for each of the kids so that they all get enough to snack on.
I am amazed that the garden is only going to cost us the price of the nails and the soil mix. The recycled crates and pallets are free from a
lumber yard in a town about 25 miles from home. If you ask around, you may find old pallets that are being given away. Businesses that receive their order shipments on a pallet have to pay to have the old ones hauled off when they are done using them. If you ask, you may find that they are willing to give away the old pallets for free or ask only a very small price for them. The lumber yard that we got ours from gives
the old ones away but sells new pallets for $6.00 each. Prices depend on the business. You might find some through Craig’s List or the local newspaper.