Posts tagged ‘Raised Beds’
Today was my first day volunteering at Jennings – one of the Snohomish County Master Gardener demonstration gardens. As an Intern Master Gardener I will complete 16 hours of volunteer time in this garden. If it was closer to my house I’d be there all the time – it’s that amazing.
Not only are the garden “rooms” unique and charming, but they includes space saving techniques like vertical gardening, straw bale gardening and stacked raised beds. It was hard to catch the charm in photos, but I still wanted to share a slideshow of the different gardens, trellises, arbors, pathways and plants.
The Jennings demo garden is located at 6915 Armar Road in Marysville and is open to the public. Master Gardener volunteers will be on site to answer questions every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 9-1 (May – September). It’s well worth the trip.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about how I think it’s mean/discouraging when someone criticizes someone else’s garden or garden style. It happens. I’m one of the folks that thinks that anyone can and should garden (see my quote in the side bar). Really. Just do what you can.
To give a little encouragement to those just starting a veggie garden, I’m going to post pictures showing how my garden has evolved over the years. I’ve been growing veggies since 2002 – so almost nine years.
You’ll notice that my first veggie garden was pretty ugly, weedy and wimpy! I mulched the pathway but not the weedy beds and those trellises wouldn’t hold anything up. I remember how proud I was of this garden – and still am.
I doubled the veggie garden the second year. I also added tomatoes and dahlias! Oh, and the neighbors started remodeling their house — now that’s UGLY! The crazy mess in the middle is my herb garden.
I couldn’t find a picture of the 2004 Veggie garden but remember it was crazy with two large rows of green beans.
I had a wimpy garden in 2005 with mostly squash since I just bought a house and creating the perennial gardens took up all my time.
In 2006 I cleaned up a sunny spot on the North side of my lot and made brand new trellises for my green beans. This was back when I used red plastic mulch under my tomatoes. Now I cut up black garbage bags.
In the winter of 2007 we added raised beds – I love them. We still have them today. Look how nice the beds look in early summer.
This is what the garden looks like in late September. Yikes. I have plastic over the tomatoes to keep the rain off.
Here’s what the garden looks like today. We are in the process of remodeling the backyard and adding a stone patio — but it sure looks ugly right now. I’m not worried. I know it’s going to look great!
See. It takes awhile to get your garden started. When you do get it started it may look good on some days and look like a bomb went off on other days. At least I have a fence to hide behind.
What I’ve learned
- Raised beds are better for weed control and don’t need to be fancy. The community garden in my neighborhood uses *free* pallets and cuts into sections for raised beds.
- Drip irrigation works great for watering. I got a timer for $30 at Costco and I have all my drip hoses hooked up for early morning watering (in summer). My garden waters itself. Plus a lot of plants don’t like to be watered from above.
- To remove grass I now put down newspaper/cardboard and cover with mulch (we use leaves in the fall). This kills the grass and adds nutrients back to the soil. This works WAY better than laying down a tarp.
- If not using raised beds, try using mulch like straw, bark and shavings to keep weeds away. I cut up black plastic garbage bags for tomatoes & peppers and place over the drip irrigation (even in the raised beds – it adds heat). I hear you can call your local arborist and they’ll sometimes give wood chips for free (they dump it anyway)!
- Add compost. Before I made my own, I purchased bags of cow manuer from our local hardware store. Some of you may even have a neighbor with some to spare. I mix it with the soil to add nutrients & feed the plants. Make sure you have more soil than manauer when mixing – adding too much can burn the roots.
- Grow only what you eat. I grew stuff I thought was cool but never ate. This takes up room you could be using to grow something you would eat.
- Plant your veggie garden in a FULL SUN spot. Part of my first garden was in shade. I had a hard time getting anything to grow in the shady spot – even lettuce.
- If you want to save money, buy seeds. Easy seeds to start outside are lettuce, beans, peas, carrots, radishes, cucumber, sunflowers and squash. These are also fun to grow when getting started.
- Have fun, experiment and don’t give up. Start small and expand until you get overwhelmed. I learned by reading books and experimenting.
- Have the right support for your veggies. You can create trellises out of scraps of wood, fencing, bed frames or you can build your own. I created my two trellises (in 2006) out of 2×2’s and nylon twine. I cut the 2×2 with a saw and wrapped/criss-crossed the twine to connect the wood together.
June has been very good to us. Our veggie garden has made great progress this year – much better than the cold soggy garden we had this time last year.
We have a dahlia cutting garden and herbs (picture on left) and a total of three raised beds for veggies (picture on right).
Below we have pictures of our almost ripe Beafsteak tomatoes, our yellow and purple potato patch, three basil plants, our cinderella pumpkin, our corn/bush beans/volunteer tomato/volunteer sunflower patch, dill, our row of mammoth sunflowers, lettuce and peas.
It all started this fall when I decided to dig up the Pampas Grass. Ever since then I knew it was the perfect spot for a new Dahlia bed!
On the first warm day this winter, I painfully dug up the large grass mass and pawned the chunks off on my friends.
Once the smaller new bed was built, I moved the herbs into their smaller home and got to work planting my new and old Dahlias in one location.
I dug up a handful of Dahlias from around the yard and planted into the new bed; leaving maybe six plants scattered around the yard that I couldn’t quite fit. Not bad.
I also planted a bunch of new tubers I purchased this winter, including: Walter Hardisty; Bride To Be; Bliss; Crazy Legs; Tropic Sun; Matchmaker; Touche; Star Child; Serkan; White Onesta; and Pink Accent.
I’m feeling pretty good about getting all my well loved tubers in the ground. Now, I only need to wait 2+ months and I’ll have an endless supply of fresh cut flowers.
Here is a full picture of all our raised beds in the back yard.
Notice, the smaller/lighter bed past the Dahlia bed – that’s the new bed – where I was supposed to plant my tubers until I moved the herbs.
Three of the beds are for our veggies, including along the back fence and behind the herb garden. We also have raspberries and blueberries planted along the driveway, a strawberry bed and various fruit trees scattered about.
So far, for veggies, we have peas, carrots, garlic, spinach, lettuce, and radishes sprouting.
We just planted corn, Cinderella pumpkins, and bush beans.
We still have pole beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and random herbs to plant in a couple more weeks.
So, this is where we’re at with the vegetable garden so far this year. I’ll continue to share progress along the way.