There is something so exciting about the idea of growing my own food. So after moving to our current home, I was disappointed to discover that there was no spot in our yard suitable for a traditional garden. After a really wet year and a new baby, last year's container garden (using pots) was a failure except for a few heads of lettuce. This year I vowed to do it right. So I did my homework and built and planted raised garden beds using the “square foot gardening” method, where seeds are planted in a grid rather than in rows to save space. Here is a peek at my journey:
Materials I used:
- Utility grade cedar (you can use the fancy stuff but it costs at least twice as much)I used 2x6's for the sides and ends (stacked 2 high) and 12” 4x4's for the corners. They can be cut to whatever length or height you need for your garden. My raised beds each measure 2x5' and are 12” deep.
- 4” Stainless steel screws (these are meant specifically for cedar as they don't react with the wood and turn black)
- Top soil mixed with manure, peat, and compost. There are some pretty fancy formulas out there as to the perfect mix. I did not follow a specific formula (I'll let you know how it turns out!)
Things I've learned:
- Carrots and beets are not meant to be transplanted as seedlings. Same goes for peas and beans Just plant the seeds straight into your garden!
- With raised beds, the plants are in much closer quarters than in a traditional garden so remember to sow the seeds for the taller plants on the north side of the garden so they don't shade the smaller ones as they grow. This means potatoes, tomatoes, beans & peas on the north side of the garden but not necessarily right beside each other as they are not all companion plants (they don't all get along!)
- Tomatoes don't like potatoes. Or peas. Or beets. Come to think of it, maybe next year tomatoes will get their own separate box or planter.
- Peas, beans and other tall vine-type plants are good along the back of your garden (if it's against a wall or fence) as they need to be staked and will also create a nice backdrop. Just make sure they aren't going to shade neighboring plants.
- Choose a sunny location for your garden.
- A chicken wire fence is no match for a 100lb labrador!
Now, since this is a work in progress, I can't tell you the end result just yet. But so far I've harvested some lettuce and it is delish! Stay tuned for more updates as we approach the great harvest!
This is a great project if you are trying to eat local (it really doesn't get any more local that this) and to teach your kids about growing their own food. It is really quite exciting to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor! When those tiny little seedlings break through the soil, and grow into plants that will nourish you and your family, it really does nourish your soul too.
Happy gardening, friends.