Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. May Sarton
Part 1: Prepping Your Garden #
My husband has come down with a serious case of Spring Fever… which is wholly to my advantage. In the past few days, he has been back and forth to Bauhaus about a dozen times and now our back garden resembles something akin to a lumber yard. But it’s all for the greater good. You see, my husband is building a raised garden in a sunny corner of our lot and by late spring and well into summer we will be enjoying the fruits, and veg, of his labour… a veritable harvest, if all goes well, of fresh organic produce.
What better way to get our allotment than to grow them ourselves?
In this ongoing series, we will share with you what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, how to replicate it, and let you know our successes and failures. Together, we will rock this GIY thing!
Raised Bed #
If you live in a finca, and have tons of land, space is clearly not a problem for you. But if you’re like us and live in a village house with a modest garden area, you’ve got to be a bit more conservative, not to mention creative, to get the most out of what you’ve got.
Our solution is to create a raised bed. The concept is simple and great for small spaces. This could even be done, albeit in a smaller version, on a terrace in an apartment creating an amazing urban garden.
We bought a bunch of 2x4’s, then cut and drilled them together to create two rectangular spaces. They are open on the bottom and top, allowing them to be easily moved, and ensuring there is proper drainage. If all this cutting and drilling sounds like a lot more work than you’re willing to do, it’s possible to buy prefabricated frames from garden centres or hardware stores. They usually require a small amount of assembly, but nothing any of us can’t do in this age of Ikea. They’re not made to measure, but if that isn’t a concern, they’re a fast and easy way to get a bed together in an hour or two, and many have special add-ons like trellises or fencing if critters such as rabbits are a potential risk.
Once you’ve got your beds assembled, it’s time to place them. Make sure you put them in a reasonably sunny spot, as once you fill them, you won’t be able to easily move them. If you don’t know where to get optimal available light, check online to find out where the sun rises and sets in spring and summer, then place your beds where they will receive the best conditions.
Get Dirt(y) #
After, you then fill your frame with good rich soil, creating a bed suitable for growing. There are two ways to go about this step.
Making You Own
- Since raised beds are difficult to till, an extra lightweight growing medium is needed to prevent soil compaction. To get this, mix an equal quantity of garden soil, coarse sand and compost for a top-drawer homemade soil blend.
- Unless you are growing over a concrete slab, break up the soil under the raised bed before placing it so the roots have room to move and water can drain.
- This type of soil mix dries out fast, making a straw mulch around the vegetables the final ingredient to perfect garden soil.
- If you’re going for organic veg, make sure all the ingredients you use are certified.
- The other option is to buy soil from a garden centre or landscape supplier. Be sure to ask for the best topsoil product for planting vegetables in raised beds as this differs from topsoil used for other purposes, such as lawns or flower beds.
- Be wary of advertisements for cheap or free bulk topsoil, as this is generally scraped from construction sites and may be full of roots, rocks and other unknown substances and chemicals, making it unsuitable planting organic vegetables.
- Go to the landscape supply yard and look at the options to make sure you are getting loose, clean, lightweight soil that has compost already mixed in.
Now that we’ve got a place to plant, we need to get planting! In the next segment, we will talk about what plants to plant, which need space, which do well together, whether to plant seedlings or seeds and when to plant what! Until next time!
By Stephanie Horsman
26 January, 2021