Saturday, February 9, 2013

IT'S GARDEN BUILDING TIME


I am in the final planning of the garden area at the farm and guess what?  Today starts the construction!  As this post appears, I'll be at the farm building raised garden beds.

There are numerous reasons for raised beds, not the least of which is the poor soil condition in the only real area we have right now to put the garden.  Sure we have 10 acres, but about 7 of those are still undeveloped (other than my big green zen machine trails), so that only leaves the immediate area already cleared around the house.

Several more factors came into play; they have to be close enough to the house to let the water hoses reach them, they can’t be in the low parts of the yard that flood during heavy rains, and of course they have to be where they get the most sun.  I’ve already marked off one site that meets those criteria as the future barn area, so I can’t put the gardens there.  That left me the one area I’ve been making ready the last few months by clearing the small trees out and keeping it mowed so nature wouldn't take over.

Alas, the soil is just not the greatest, lots of clay, very compacted, never been cultivated, etc, so that’s why I’ve decided on raised beds.  I got 2”x12” boards so I can have the deepest planting possibilities.  I will also till the soil below each raised bed just to give the ground a head start and over the next few weekends, I will start layering material in each one that can decompose before I get the soil mix put in.

Photo of 4x4 raised bed gardens, courtesy of Dave's Garden forum


My biggest conundrum was the shape and size.  I am drawn to numerous 4’x4’ beds like the ones in the picture above.  So neat and tidy.  But I decided to have a couple bigger ones as well.  Side note, I have accounted for having a wider path between them, three feet is what I decided on, to allow for garden carts, tools, etc.  So the plan is to start out with six beds; two 4'x8' long rectangle beds as in the picture below, and then four 4'x4' square beds like I posted above.

I planned six raised beds this season because I have purchased six sets of these really neat corner brackets I found online (more on those later) that make it easier (supposedly anyway) to build each one and hold them together.

The six beds will give me 128 square feet of garden space.
Photo of 4x8 raised bed garden, courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

There is plenty of room left for later expansion, so that’s not an issue.  I’ve cordoned off a roughly 36’ x 48’ space in the yard with these starting at the front of that space and then I can expand toward the back in later seasons (or maybe even this Fall).

Photos soon of how much progress I make, fingers crossed!

23 comments:

Jenny said...

Sounds like you're going to have a wonderful garden! can't wait to see what you'll plant in it in spring :)

Annie*s Granny said...

Building the raised beds is one of the most rewarding things in gardening. Planning, planning and watching everything grow is even more rewarding! I love the look of boxed in raised beds, but I found the soil heated up and dried out too quickly in my garden, so I've mostly reverted back to wide row intensive gardening instead.

Myrna said...

Even with good garden space, raised beds are really great. I think you will find they are easier to weed and water.

Sue said...

You'll love your raised beds...keeping space for your garden cart is something you won't regret. We made some 3'x 8' and some 4' x 8'; the 3' wide ones are easier to work in, you don't have to lean in so far. We used the wide ones for things like 2 rows of potato hills.
At a later date you may want to use paving blocks or something between your beds to keep the weeds down as mulch deteriorates over time. Think about that when planning your space between boxes - it would have saved us some time later, and doesn't hurt if you never do that.

Linda said...

I was thinking along the same lines as Sue; narrower beds are easier to reach the weeds (and crop!) and gravel between the beds (or paving stones) to keep the weeds down.
All in all your plans sound great! Just wish I could convince my fella that these would be a great idea for us too:)

IsobelleGoLightly said...

Oooo! Yummy! My lady can't think about gardening and working in the soil until late April, usually. We've lost a lot of sun here due to the trees growing up too high. We used to be able to grow corn, but now it's too shady.

Frugal Living UK said...

SO exciting, I can't wait to see the results. The photos are lovely and just exactly what I would like too.

Sandy said...

Sounds like your getting truly ready to plant.

Remember to make beds where you can reach all the plants, and not have to hurt
yourself trying to get at them. I've learned the hard way 2 years ago by pulling my back reaching for vegetables planted to deep in an above ground garden.

I can't wait to see your beds growing, enjoy!!

Bee Girl said...

Ooohhhh...I can't wait to see how this all pans out!!! So exciting!

BumbleVee said...

my first garden...years ago...was in horrible clay soil.... we just added a bit of sand.... and it was the best garden I ever managed to grow. If it rained though...oh, man was it awful just trying to plod around...the clay stuck to my boots and made me inches taller and awkward...

I had the tallest corn and the most cucumbers I've ever seen in my life! I had no idea it all would grow (and, I'm sure ever single seed I planted did just that!) and had some pretty long rows of veggies... I had to put out bags for passers by to take away. I was inundated with the things! They wouldn't stop....

I live in a different province now. We could still have snow and frozen ground here til well into April.... veg gardens here are not ideal...but, we do plant some tomatoes and peppers in big pots and near the garden shed once in awhile.... but, mostly, I just enjoy flowers now....

1st Man said...

I'm planning now the vegetables now, fingers crossed. This will be a first for me (a large garden).

1st Man said...

Yes, having finished the construction (post about that tomorrow) I was so excited while doing it. They aren't in place yet, but it was a great experience. We might have some in ground gardens at some future point too. I'm also looking currently at some watering/irrigation ideas too. I don't think we'll have a thousand pounds like you, but if we get a few hundred, i'll be excited!! :-) You inspire me as always!!

1st Man said...

I've heard that about raised beds, that was another benefit I took into account. 2nd Family at the other end of the property has a fenced off in ground area but they fight weeds like crazy. Here's hoping this goes easy! :-)

1st Man said...

I'm hoping, this is all a new process. I ended up with the 8x4 since I already had the wood cut a few days ago but I have future expansion plans so I'll make some narrow ones next time. I thought about paving blocks. For now it will be grass and I'll use my weed eater but I may just cover them with weed block and bring in gravel too. We'll see. Thanks for the advice, I may be need lots of it in a few months. :-)

1st Man said...

Definitely leaning toward gravel, probably not initially but eventually. I have a post tomorrow about the building of them, I used these great corner pieces that made it SO easy. Perhaps they will help convince your guy, ha.

1st Man said...

Late April? We'll probably be in the 80's by then, ha. I bet you enjoyed that corn your lady grew huh? And I bet you'd like the garden most of all. ;-)

1st Man said...

We'll see how close I can come to that, ha. I'm jealous of your soon to be greenhouse! Can't wait to see it!

1st Man said...

I had a small raised bed here in town once that was 5x5 and that was too big. I couldn't get to the center of it. I hope these 4x4's will be good. Beds are built, next weekend they'll be 'arranged' and I'll start prepping them for soil. Thank you!!!

1st Man said...

Thank you!!! I hope I live up to your awesomeness! Post tomorrow on what the beds look like built, still have to get them put into place. That's this coming weekend. Today was a rain day, ugh.

1st Man said...

Hmm, never thought about planting in clay after amending it a bit. Hey, we have acres, we can try it later if this doesn't work, ha. Wow, so you can't plant veggies in the ground at all there huh? That's too bad but hey, pots are a good solution. Thanks for sharing! I love hearing gardening stories from other places! :-)

Kirk Dale said...

I'm envious. AGA and I are itching to have our own vegetable garden.
My father had raised vegetable beds and made sure they were narrow (as recommended by some other commentators)
He also used to dig in ashes from the fire and would specifically burn tin cans and then dig them in too. I'm not sure why but he always seemed to have a fab crop of vegetables.
Bye for now
Kirk

1st Man said...

You'll get one soon, I'm sure of it! I have heard of the ashes (but had forgotten, thanks for the reminder) but I've never heard of the tin cans being burned. Fascinating, I love hearing stories like that. Thanks!

Stay warm in all that snow!

beachdaddy said...

I've been thinking about your location ... do you really want full sun? I don't know how similar sun/heat is to here in Tucson, but here, where I've only grown tomatoes so far, they don't like the full sun and get tough skins and won't fully grow and expand as the full sun is too hot... they did well in partial speckled sun from large trees, and a few hours of late afternoon direct sun only ... something to think about...