When we purchased our house we painted inside and then the outside. We positioned the furniture where it could fit and then started on the curb appeal. Our friends told us we would soon have a “Green Thumb.” First shovel into the ground we nearly broke our backs!!!! Rock everywhere…. Shale? Whats that?
We bought a house that sits on Shale?!?!? The entire county sits on Shale! I never knew that one of the questions to ask when you purchase a house is; “How is the soil?” It never occurred to us. We knew we wanted to have a vegetable garden and flowers too, so on to
Plan B: Above ground container gardening or raised box / beds (as some people refer to them). Our only choice!
My husband went out one morning and came home with ruff cut wood (all natural), untreated wood / planks and started putting our first box together… we added soil (organic mixed with top soil). It measured 4 x 8 !!! Our first season we grew tomatoes… Since then we have expanded, expanded, and expanded again. We are up to 17 boxes this year and it’s been a work in progress. A true labor of love…
In our experience, we have found that the raised beds are easier to manage (not as back breaking) then long rows of veggies in the ground. Each box can have a different vegetable or you can combine vegetables that grow better with less sun exposure (cooler dirt temps, e.i lettuces). Another great plus is you can keep logs of what and where you plant so that rotating each year is simple (take pictures of your gardens to see the fruits of your labor). Also, as boxes need to be maintained (weeding, cutting back, tying up and or harvesting), you can work one or two boxes a day and not feel so over whelmed.
We get creative each year… sometimes we plant tomatoes growing with basil ~ LOL and sometimes when we want to grow in a straight line (for carrots and radishes), we run a string across the box. Planting in circles for herbs is also very fun (you can find an old bicycle tire or wagon wheel and use the sections to divide your plants). I always save a box to grow flowers. I LOVE fresh cut flowers on my kitchen table and I always have enough to share with friends. Most importantly it brings the bees for pollination which is what you need for a beautiful gardens.
I run a compost pile that has chicken poop, goat poop, pine shavings, leaves, grass cuttings, egg shells, coffee grounds and scraps from the garden. All of the above will get turned into these beds as needed, and every other fall we will spread some fresh organic manure.
As fall approaches, I let my chickens break down what I have not used….all the kale that I could’t finish or the parsley that grew out of control, the hidden cucumbers under the trellis, the tomatoes that reached the ground. It’s beautiful to watch if you raise chickens!
The task at hand this coming spring after adding the additional boxes will be a NEW fence for our vegetable garden (the deer, rabbits and other animals finally caught on to what we are growing). In addition last year we added a pergola to grow gagootz (cucuzza) squash (a dear friend gave us a seedling). So interesting this vegetable is… I cant wait to get it started in a few weeks!! The possibilities are endless! I have ordered my seeds from a seed exchange that is certified organic and wait patiently for them to arrive.
If you can dedicate an hour in the morning for a water and again in the evening to your raised beds, you will be pleasantly surprised as to how easy, clean looking, and very rewarding this alternative can be.. I sometimes cant wait for the moment to pull up a stool and work on my vegetable gardens or sit off the deck and read a book with the beautiful gardens as my back drop.
I was briefly disappointed when we found out about our ground and soil conditions, but ever so happy for the way it has turned out for us.
If there is a will there is a way 🙂 Additional pictures to follow in late spring early Summer when we have completed the fence. Thank you for visiting this page 🙂