Garden Bed Musings

It has warmed up and my garden bed has thawed out. Now I’m itching to finish the raised garden bed I made this winter. Unfortunately, it is pouring rain today…and supposed to continue this way the rest of the week. So, I thought I’d talk about the garden.

I’ve had an in ground garden for a couple of years and it has worked out ok. I’ve grown watermelon, cantaloupe, peas, peppers, corn, pumpkins, and tomatoes over the past couple of years. But it has never been very productive and I’ve had to fight the lawn trying to grow into it all the time.

The small in ground garden bed.

The small in ground garden bed.

BUT last summer nothing I planted in my garden grew. All that grew were voluntary pumpkins from pumpkins my kids had smashed into the garden the previous fall. Get this…nothing grew because of my neighbor’s very free range chickens. Everywhere I planted (the garden, the front yard, and another spot in the back yard) the chickens scratched them up and ate them. I couldn’t get them to stay out of my yard. I was mad and frustrated. And my kids had a blast chasing the chickens, with me cheering them on, all summer.

Unfortunately, the chickens are still around and still free range. So if I want to grow anything this year I’ll need some way of keeping them out of my garden.

I spent last fall surfing Pinterest and other gardening blogs to get garden ideas. I wanted to build something that would last, be easy to put together, not cost too much (don’t we all?), keep the chickens out, and up the productivity of my garden. (Not asking for too much, am I?) I finally decided upon building a raised garden bed and build it using cinder blocks with PVC hoops to hold a tulle covering.

Cinderblock raised garden bed

Cinder block raised garden bed.

I went with two cinder block depths to get the soil deep enough to try growing carrots (hopefully!). I’m filling it in with Mel’s mix of vermiculite, peat moss, and compost. As you can see, I still have to fill it to the top and into the cinder block holes. Then I’m going pound in rebar to hold the PVC hoops.

To make this bed I had to buy:

  • 36-8″x8″x16″ cinder blocks
  • 8-2′ lengths of rebar
  • 2-10′ lengths of 1″ PVC
  • 4-10′ lengths of 1/2″ PVC
  • 5 yards of tulle

It wasn’t too hard to build. I’d say the hardest part was getting the bottom row level. I dug into the ground on the far side and built up on the near side, due to a slight slope, to get them level.

To up the productivity I’m going to try square foot gardening. In my research last fall I found the book All New Square Foot Gardening 2nd Edition by Mel Bartholomew. I was so surprised I’d never heard of this method of gardening before. It totally blew me away. I’ll post more about this later as I try it out.

My idea is to grow fruits and veggies in the bed and herbs and companion flowers in the cinder block holes along the perimeter.

Just waiting for the rain to stop to get started.


Categories: garden, homestead | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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