Raised Beds!

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Look what we did last weekend! We built three new 3×8 cedar raised beds for the garden! After three years of gardening at our community garden plot, we decided it was time to make some improvements. Truth be told, I was pretty garden weary at the end of last season, and I considered giving up the plot to someone who was more invested in the idea. But then my husband (that’s him there, in one of the new raised beds he built!) talked me out of it. I’ve been really wanting to add raised beds to better use the space, provide structure, and to make weeding and watering less of a chore.

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It was a ton of work, but in two days we managed to build the beds, haul in a dirt/compost mix, carry the dirt by wheelbarrow across the garden to fill the beds, and then plant them with seeds and seedlings. Whew! I was glad to have help from my family, and the use of a friend’s pick up truck. My husband built the beds, my 12-year-old shoveled dirt into the wheelbarrow, I hauled the dirt and loaded it into the beds, and my 10-year-old stomped it down (and chomped on rhubarb stems, which is always helpful ;).

I’m so happy with how they look, and watering has been a breeze. In past years, we’ve had issues with water pooling at the base of the garden, as the plot is not level. The beds fix that problem. We planted tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, swiss chard, bush beans, lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, onions, cucumbers, sweet peas, and cantaloupe. The seeds are sprouting, and the straw is keeping the weeds at bay.

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Here’s a view of all three beds with straw added. I had originally gotten the straw to place under the strawberries and the raspberries, but I had a ton left over, so I used it in place of wood chips, which can change the pH of the soil. I’ve since read that hay, especially hay that has been composted somewhat, is best for the soil, but oh well…maybe next year.

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On the home front, I have very exciting news to share (well, to me at least). Finally, I have peonies! After countless attempts in different areas of the yard, I’ve grown a bumper crop on the south side of the house. Who knew it would be such an ordeal? At our last house, we transplanted an entire row of them from a neighbor’s yard and they grew like crazy, their huge white, bright pink, and pale pink pom-pom blooms drooping to the ground. (I actually don’t mind the droopiness, so I’ve never staked them). At our current house, though, I’ve had a heck of a time getting them to take. I think, in the end, I was planting them too deep. At the end of last season, we dug them up and replanted them just below the surface of the soil. Now, results! They were blooming on June 1, our wedding anniversary…21 years ago, these beauties would have made their way into my bouquet.

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Stay tuned for more news from the garden! And be sure to stop by and see me at the Fulton Farmer’s Market on June 17. I’ll be making newspaper seed pots and selling copies of The Nitty Gritty Gardening Book. Happy growing!

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