This is my first year at this. Thanks to the many folks who sent me tips after my inagural posting. I spent this weekend building the boxes. I’ve built three different types of boxes. The first is a typical 4 ft x 4 ft garden box with a 6 inch depth.
I’m putting this box in the back of our already productive strawberry bed over where some mint and fennel has been a bit to aggressive. The bottom of the bed is lined with landscape cloth and I did work the soil a bit to level underneath it. There shouldn’t be much of a problem with weeds coming up.
The other boxes I’ve created are 2 ft x 8 ft boxes. These will also provide 16 square feet for planting purposes. I’m going with 2×8 beds because I’m going place them in the side yard which gets a lot of sun but isn’t wide enough to accommodate the 4×4 configuration. One of the boxes has been made double height (one foot height) for purposes of planting potatoes, beets and carrots and other deeper growing vegetables.
Construction of the boxes was very simple. I purchased 5/4″ x 6″ x8′ boards and used scrap 2x4s to make the corners. 2″ decking screws are used to put everything together. I lined the insides with landscape cloth and stapled it in place. The idea of using raised beds with a specially engineered soil is to maximize plant density and avoid having to dig up parts of the yard. Since the beds are lined on the bottom with landscape cloth you can simply set them on the ground and fill them up. I will admit some digging was required to level the beds, but this is substantially less than the typical sod removal, tilling, etc that the rest of the garden has required.
I have scaled back the square foot garden beds to 64 square feet from my original plan of 128 square feet. This is because after calculating the costs of soil mix ingredients I was going to go broke growing my vegetables (baring a massive surge in commodity prices). Also while I know this will probably come back to haunt me, I’ve been convinced that I can use perlite instead of vermiculite. This is a source of much controversy on various gardening forums, but vermiculite was quite difficult and expensive to come by while the garden center folks I talked to assured me that perlite would be just fine provided I used a little extra compost instead of the pure 1/3 parts each (compost, peat, vermiculite) mentioned in the book. Time will tell. I’m also planning to get some plastic planters from home depot for the tomato plants and possibly some other plants. We have some very sunny places on our mostly south facing deck and it seems a waste not to use them to maximize the growing potential. I’ve always had pretty good luck with tomato plants and freezing the sauce makes for great eating year round.
In addition to the newly abundant bed space which will be getting some plantings this week, I have my more traditional garden beds underway as well. The strawberries seem to have survived the winter. Last year we had a bit of a wet period after the fruit started coming on strong, so our yield was lower than anticipated, but we still got a few jars of jam. We also have returning blueberry plants, and I hope that the blackberry bush that I planted two years ago will finally get to the size where it fruits. I also hope to get some of the grapes this year (most were taken by the birds last year. Finally I’ve got spinach, broccoli and peas coming up. I’ve also started an asparagus bed, but we won’t get any to eat until next year at the earliest .
For my next post I’m hoping to share my garden plan including a week x week planting and harvest plan.