Getting the garden started

I have been making use of any non-rainy hour over the weekends this month putting in new garden beds. We had wooden raised  beds at the old house and after a few years they were getting to a point where the wood was going to need replacing. We would like to avoid that here; everything we are doing we are trying to think about the future (ie, old age!). We needed to get beds in quickly as I’ll need to start planting things like potatoes, snap and snow peas, kale, cabbage, etc pretty soon. I’ll be starting those all inside under grow lights this week.

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future garden area in front and hay field (high tunnels are on neighboring property)

I did quite a bit of research about the best way to tackle the beds – should we just till up the earth and call it a day? Should we use the “Lasagna” bed, or “no till”, that seems to be pretty popular? I’m drawn to the lasagna bed method as it will require less watering and weeding – however we moved in at the end of October so we had no mulch, compost, grass clippings, etc with which to get started. I decided to do a variation on the lasagna method that I’m hoping will give me the same long term benefits.

I started out by mowing the grass short in the area where the beds were going in; then I measured out 4×8 foot beds and marked them out with stakes. From there I put down cardboard, and lots of it, to act as a weed barrier. Ideally, you want to soak the cardboard to make it stay in place, but our weather has been so wet I figured it would be soaked in a matter of hours anyway! I decided to have 5 yards of high quality, organic, compost/top soil mixture delivered; yes, we have 10 acres of dirt, but when you get to be a certain age, it just makes more sense to make the investment and have the good stuff delivered and dropped within feet of where the beds are being constructed.

Each bed got several cart loads of dirt (being careful with the first one not to move the cardboard out of place) leveled out to create a raised bed of sorts, without anything framing them; I’d say they are about 6 inches deep after settling for a few weeks. I tried to make the sides as straight as possible and even left the edges raised a bit to try to minimize eroding.

We’ve put in 15 beds at this time; we’ll be putting in at least 5 more soon but this was enough to get started. I’m happy to report that there has been very little eroding, no weeds have poke through, and they look great! We may still add some barrier to the south facing side of each bed as the ground is slightly sloped so I don’t want to see the dirt wash away, but for now it’s been staying in place for several weeks. The next step will be adding mulch to the top to hold in the moisture and cut down on the weeds. We are only in the last day of January so I still have at least a month before I will be planting anything out there – but I can’t wait to see how this experiment pans out!

Our seed order has been placed – grow light brought out of storage – I’m ready for spring!

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