Garden Odds and Ends

First signs of spring

First signs of spring

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

It’s been a long winter, which makes us all the more appreciative of all the signs of spring. These daffodils came out last week, and then were beaten down by a ferocious rainstorm within the first day of blooming. But with a little sun and some warmer temps, they rebounded in a yellow bursts of hope.

peas reach for the sky

peas reach for the sky

The peas are growing steadily. The other plantings are also starting to show themselves, while others wait for their time in the soil.

garden-in-waiting

garden-in-waiting

A Note on Raised-bed Gardening

Excerpt From Seed to Table (to be released in May 2013)

S2T-6Robert has been gardening using the raised bed method for several decades. I’ve come to appreciate its benefits as well. He rakes the soil into eight-inch mounds in three- to four-foot wide rows. He forms the raised bed from soil raked into a mound. The space left forms the paths between the raised beds and is an excellent place for mulch application.

The mulch we place on the garden serves as its own compost bin. We use straw from a local farm – we buy six-eight bales total in summer and fall. They cost approximately $6 each. I use them as decorative items in the yard until Robert’s ready to pull them apart for use as mulch. We also use mushroom manure, grass clippings from our lawn, leaves from our trees, compost from the bin, plants that have bolted, remains of vegetables, such as cornhusks, pea pods, or bean ends and strings. This material goes into the valleys between the raised beds to form a path between rows. It’s very easy to reach all the plants in our garden from the mulched paths without walking on the beds.

When we first married, I was cautious about going into Robert’s sanctuary because I didn’t want to do something wrong or step on anything. After the first year of working with him in the garden, I realized his way of laying out the garden made it extremely friendly for me to go out and pick vegetables. Also with the heavy layers of mulch between the rows, there’s very little weeding to do in the garden.

Raised bed gardening provides several benefits over regular garden beds. Because the plants are above the ground, drainage from the beds is very good. It also helps in aeration of the soil and the plant’s roots. It increases the depth of the bed. And my personal favorite, it provides excellent demarcation of the plants and the walking paths.

raised beds

raised beds

4 thoughts on “Garden Odds and Ends

    • Believe me, I’m just the manual labor following directions. I give my husband all the credit for growing it so it comes to the kitchen for my work on it. Before I married him, the most I managed were a few tomato and pepper plants and perhaps some basil in a really good year!

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    • Betsy, It is the most satisfying job in the world . . . for us. I sometimes lose patience with the family room takeover of plants and my husband’s single-minded focus this time of year, but then I pull a package of our spinach out of the freezer.

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