Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Raised Garden Beds or to Not Raise Garden Beds

With the recent patio construction project we ended up with over 10 yards of soil in the backyard. One idea we've been considering is whether to raise our vegetable garden bed or to leave it as is and make a new raised bed some place else.

I found a few ideas here at Gardener's Supply Company, but have a hard time justifying the use of new wood and supplies to create a raised bed. Greg and Renee at Raised-Bed-Gardening Blog mention finding free supplies through classified ads, Craigslist has been a success in having some of the excess soil removed and would likely work for supplies for the beds as well. Habitat for Humanity's Outlet Store or Second Use may both be good options, and we need to go there for some new basement doors.

What benefits do you see to creating a raised garden bed? Do you have designs that have worked well for you and are cheap or free?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

10 Step process to create a Vegetable Garden Plan

Winter rolls around and you're stuck inside in the northwest, maybe if you're lucky it's a warm winter like this year. What does a gardener do? She gets out her trusty "Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades", grabs a notebook, and heads for a coffee shop to plan out the 2010 vegetable garden over a chai tea.

10 Step Process

  • Step 1: Identify all the vegetables you want to grow
  • Step 2: Figure out when they should be planted and get an idea of when they will mature. If you want more lettuce throughout the summer, then plant it 3-4 weeks apart.
  • Step 3: How many of each of those do you want to grow? That's where notes from the previous years about how many hours you spent canning plums and green tomatoes comes in handy.
  • Step 4: Measure and draw a map of your vegetable gardens. There may be several spaces, like you see in ours. Figure out where you'd put paths for easy picking and where the best sun is. Remember to leave space, don't do what I did and sit on your green peppers while trying to get to the green beans.
  • Step 5: Get a pencil and eraser, you'll write and erase a lot.
  • Step 6: Start plotting the veggies in patches appropriate to their size. A head of lettuce will need less space than a potato plant. Of course the lettuce can be grown in batches.
  • Step 7: Reference your list of veggies to grow.
  • Step 8: Drink some chai and take a deep breath. Know you will not be able to fit all the veggies you want, so let a few go for next year.
  • Step 10: Sit back and wait for late February for your first peas to go in.
You may find our planting calendar handy for reference at the bottom of this page. It helps us remember when to set aside a weekend so the seeds and starts can go in.

Any steps you'd add? What vegetables have you had success with and when do you plant them?

You will find plums and likely melons added to our calendar.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Patio boards removed.

Taking advantage of the yet again warm weekend weather in Seattle, the boards and nails were ripped off the frame with an ordinary hammer and small pry bar. Therapeutic and excellent exercise, remembering to use the knees to pull.
Tonight is the final review of the design.  Good suggestion was offered to ask for a cash discount since the credit card company does not have to be paid that way.  Here's hoping the state business license research and IRS info pays off with a reliable contractor.
I have to say that I was surprised to find so much soil under the patio resting against the main support boards. Interestingly though, it was the top boards rotting away with pots strategically placed to prevent feet from breaking in.
I was nervous about what we might find under the patio, especially given that Peter Rabbit has not been seen since fall.  Thankfully Floppsy has widened her range and no winter teeth marks or beheadings have befallen the garden greens. I will take precautions and grow the corn and broccoli under cover of Harvest Guard cloth.

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