I have gardened now for about 40 years – typically the old-fashioned way plowing up ground and planting directly into the soil. This year, I am trying something different – raised bed gardening. My back yard in West Central is pretty small, but one of my friends and her husband have a huge backyard.
So, with my gardening experience and their backyard, we decided to plant a garden. We debated for a while about whether to plow up the yard or to try using raised beds, which are popular because they are easy to care for. We finally decided on the raised beds.
The initial expense is more than the traditional method of simply plowing up a space and planting vegetables and plants. We purchased lengths of pine, cut them to length, painted them with weather-resistant paint, put them together, and anchored the completed boxes in the ground in a nice, sunny location.
But that wasn’t the end of it. We then had dirt brought in – 4 cubic yards – and had to fill the four boxes. We planted a variety of items: onions, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, squash, and beans. So far we have had plenty of lettuce, but with the summer heat, the lettuce is about done. Everything is growing at an amazing pace.
I have to say that I really like the raised beds – they are much easier to tend than a plowed garden. I had gardened the old-fashioned way all my life and for many years had a 5-horsepower tiller. It was a great tiller, but it was big and hard to maneuver. But when my boys were little, I gardened to can and freeze our food, and I needed a huge space.
The raised beds are more compact and are suitable for smaller yields. The only downside I can see is the initial cost and work to put the “boxes” together and fill them with dirt. Once done, though, the boxes will last for many years.
While we are hoping to have enough surplus to put some up for the winter, the yield isn’t meant to be the same as a traditional, large garden. But, boy, I sure am looking forward to the rest of the garden-fresh vegetables, in particular, the tomatoes. Nothing like a fresh tomato!
We are so thrilled with our first effort that we are already looking ahead to expanding our project for next year. More beds, more healthy, home-grown veggies. Could anything be better?