Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Veggie Garden Remodel

I am remodeling my vegetable garden. 

Truthfully when I put in my garden beds about 3 years ago, I did it in a hurry with little funds and little idea as to what I should be doing.  It was a slipshod affair and I hoped that I would be able to get it up to what I daydreamed it would be sooner.

The set up was wrong; it took up too much space for the amount of food it produced, did not take the best advantage of the sun's movements through the yard and was not convenient to work in. But at the time, I wanted my garden in NOW and was not patient enough to plan it more thoroughly. 

With the original beds, they were too wide and not convenient for my short little legs and arm. I couldn't reach the middle of the veggie bed easily. I don't like square beds, I prefer them long, so these beds are going to be 12feet by approximately 30inches. Approximately 30 square feet per bed. More space than a 4 foot x 4 foot square and much easier to work in for me. I will have a couple 4x4s but mainly it will be the long beds.  In total, I should have approximately 182 square feet of garden bed to plant which means a hell of a whole lot of vegetables!

Back in January, my friend Kate, was moving and had a bunch of 2 x 12 lumber boards she was giving away and luckily she offered them to me! So now I have a bunch of lumber to put raised beds together and get them in the yard for spring. My boyfriend is grabbing cardboard from his work to place on the ground under the beds and the walkways to reduce weeds, and the County is cutting down old trees or trees that are not movable in the neighborhood in the next few months because they are installing bio-retention swales. I called to ask if I could have the wood chips and get first dibs on them, for free. These will go in the walkways to keep them dry, make it look pretty and cut down on weeds. We have leftover soil from when I had the Douglas Fir in the backyard cut down and stump ground and when we extended out the shed on our garage, we shoveled it into a giant pile in the backyard. It needs to be screened but it is good fertile soil. I have quite a bit of chicken poop and that should help with the soil amendment as well.  And another friend, Alex, gave me a couple kits for 4 foot by 4 foot beds and I am set in making my garden what I hope it will be. Productive!

The costs should be minimal, it will just take lots of work. I have to get the ground relatively level and already have 3 beds built. One is on the ground and filled with dirt and bare root strawberry plants. The others are waiting for a cardboard layer on the ground. And I still have enough wood for two more beds!

I have read in articles that beds should be oriented in a North/South or East/West (meaning the short side would be directed east/west or north/south) or the directions of your ancestors or... or...  or... I am not sure that it really matters. Last time, my garden beds faced East/West, this time because I want to better use my space I am going to orient them North/South. I don't know if it would be any better or worse, but I can give it a try. Different publications give contradictory suggestions, so all I can really do is see what works better for me.

The boards are not treated so they will not leach arsenic into the soil, but they will also decay faster. It is a trade-off and worthwhile in my opinion, if I have to replace a board or two every few years I am good with that. At least I know my vegetable won't have extra unnecessary chemicals in them.

Hopefully, there will be good weather for the next couple of weeks and I can finally get the garden in order and ready for the first plant sales in March!

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