Gardens are such a work in progress and it seems that each year I get a little smarter. Our raised bed vegetable garden is currently 20’x40′.
Currently planted: 4 tomato plants, Peas growing on a-frame string lattice, Scarlet runner pole beans, Red onions, strawberries, potatoes, Hubbard squash, zucchini, cucumbers, dill, radishes (harvested), mammoth sunflowers, angel trumpets and few cosmos mixed in here and there. I can’t stand to be without flowers. 🙂
Using soaker hose irrigation on a timer, we get our water from a gravity fed rainwater collection tank. Rainwater runs off our 12’x12′ chicken coop and into the 1000 gallon tank via gutters. The tank is positioned slightly uphill from the garden which helps with pressure. I have my timers set for 60 minutes to run at 6am.
Dave built our raised beds from hunky pine planks that he milled himself from trees on our property. They are roughly 24 inches tall, 4 feet wide and vary in length from 5 feet to 12 feet. If I had to do it all over again I would just run one long bed down either side. The ‘pass-throughs’ between the beds never get used because of the lush growth and I don’t find it a burden to just walk ‘all the way around’ to get to the other side of the bed. We are tall people and I especially appreciate not having to bend to weed or maintain the beds.
We filled the raised beds with about 12 inches of rough pine wood chips and topped this with really excellent compost that we get from a local dairy farm. Seriously, this stuff is magic! Our logic with filling the beds halfway with wood chips is that it’s readily available to us (a landscaping neighbor who is always looking for a place to dump chips) and much cheaper than filling with compost. Over time the chips will compost and compact leaving space to drop dress with fresh compost each year.
The garden site was prepared by laying heavy duty plastic on the ground and topped it with fine grade compacting gravel. Dave borrowed a friends gravel compactor making a fine base for the beds. We have so much nasty crabgrass that I COULD NOT bear to battle it in my garden. I don’t like using plastic but the barrier is certainly making my life easier now. We chose gravel this time around as we had disappointing results with chips in the past. (We found that the wood chips eventually composted, then playing host to weeds. ugh!) Now our paths are nice and clean and smooth. The occasional weed that takes root is easily hoisted.
I had expansion plans for 2015 but my fractured ankle has really impeded my progress. Next year I hope to expand the perimeter of the garden to add more beds. I’d like to have raspberries, asparagus, more room for potatoes, pumpkins and well, a bunch of other stuff. Blueberries have to be in my future too because there is just nothing better than a freezer full of blue beauties in the winter!