Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Raised Beds Are Perfect for the Organic Gardener

There is much to be said for raised beds. For gardener and plant alike a raised bed environment has many benefits.

For the gardener you get to do all your gardening from the garden path without bending over. The plants are at eye level so it’s easier to see pest and disease with the hopes of catching either early on before they do serious damage. On this note it is also easier to see the fruit as well at harvest time. Plus it just looks nice.

Raised bed designs by IP Woody's Creative Woodworks

For the plant there is the added benefit of a loose, custom blended soil and better drainage. Soil compaction is greatly reduced in a raised bed. The soil tends to warm up earlier in the spring and continue to produce latter in the fall. With the work area at a more accessible height weeds are less likely to get ahead of the garden as well. Soil amendment and mulch are more easily applied.

Last but not least raised beds produce more per square foot than ordinary beds.

Raised beds can be as static as long rows 3 – 4 feet wide with pathways wide enough to accommodate a wheelbarrow and worker. Or they can be built in marvelous shapes and put together to create special gardens and private places to hide-away.

While raised beds can be as simple as mounding up the soil, physical borders help maintain the integrity of the sides and allows for easier access.

The sides of a bordered raised bed can be made of many different types of material.
· Rock
· Brick
· Cinder block
· Straw bales
· Railroad ties
· Plastics
· And of course wood. The wood could be redwood or cedar. These woods are naturally resistant to rot.
One of the most important details to consider when building a raised bed is the corners. If not built properly they will not hold the weight of the soil inside the bed.

These easy to build raised beds were the designed by Landscape designer Lisa Van Cleef.


One of my favorite places to shop - Gardeners Supply
has many different styles of raised beds to choose from
if you don't have a do-it-yourselfer at home.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Springtime Calls for Gardening Tools and Chores!

Early Spring Gardening Tools and Chores

Spring flowers are beacons of light shining through what's left of the bleak winter landscape.

There’s no way around it, even if you did all your chores last fall, the first jobs to be done in the spring are clean up. So get your garden cart out, your rake, pruning shears and gloves and get to picking up all the trash left behind by mindless, rude human beings, and the ravages of Mother Nature.

Look for dead and damaged plant material. Be merciless when cutting back a plant that has suffered any kind of damage. It will come back stronger than ever.

Make sure any leaves and plant material that are diseased have been cleaned up and discarded properly to avoid recontamination of new growth.

Get out your garden fork and cultivator. Cultivate shallowly where there may be roots close to the surface, use the fork on open ground to break up the soil and allow for air and water to get through. Continued vigilance at this time will also help keep weeds down.

Watch for your early spring bulbs and make plans on where you want to expand and with what for the following fall. Draw diagrams and take notes. Don’t depend on your memory.

You should already be planting seedlings inside now for planting out later. Many hardy greens will thrive in the cooler temps of early spring. They are also quick and easy to germinate and they are fast growing. Prepare a plot for spinach, kales, Asian greens, sorrel, Swiss chard, miner’s lettuce, watercress and arugula. A simple tunnel providing minimal protection for these greens will have you harvesting delectable green salads very early on.

Organic seed list:

  1. Wild Garden Seed

  2. Johnny Select Seeds

  3. Peaceful Valley

Consider the Earth when you garden and keep it Organic!

Mother Earth’s Farm / VermiCulture Northwest