Over the last few days OG and EJ have been helping me put this year's garden in. As you can see from the photo at the right, part of my garden (actually most of it, now) has been converted to raised beds. For some reason, no matter how many cubic yards of soil amendments I've added to my yard, I still have rock hard clay. Crab grass and weeds are about the only things that grow well in it. Thus, a couple years ago I began converting my garden area to raised beds, one section at a time.
Most of the materials we've used have been salvaged - not real visually appealing but very functional and inexpensive. Several years ago we were blessed with quite a bit of steel panels measuring 2 feet wide and 24 feet long. They have been the perfect size for the raised beds. We've used cinder blocks to support the middle and ends and re bar to stabilize the outside. The cinder blocks make terrific individual planters for flowers and herbs.
Most of our raised beds are two feet deep. This depth allows us to successfully plant root vegetables, which in the past haven't done well in our hard as rock clay soil. When installing the raised bed, I remove the grass and line the bare dirt with a compostable weed barrier. Old cardboard boxes are my favorite. After last summer's hurricane blew down more than five of our trees, we had an abundance of tree bark. So, as an added weed barrier layer, we evenly shoveled all the bark on top of the cardboard. Then the hard work began. We had the task of filling the beds with a 4-part mixture of garden soil mix, organic composted humus, composted chicken manure and our kitchen compost. I did the heavy work of filling the wheel barrow and dumping it into the beds. OG used the garden rake to spread the soil mixture and EJ thoroughly watered each layer. We have two more to finish up tomorrow morning. Then we will be ready to begin planting!!
We love growing and eating our own produce and every year we are as excited as we were the first year we planted a garden. This year has been especially enjoyable as OG and EJ are finally old enough to be REAL help in the garden. Words will never express how wonderful it was to have them actually helping this year. I am so proud of how hard they both worked today - as hard as I did. (and their Aunt C will tell you that's pretty dog gone hard ... she says I work like man. I think she exaggerating. But boy, I sure look and smell like one when finished! ... hee, hee). I can't wait to share more photos with you as our garden progresses.