Raised bed gardens



When May arrives, garden centers in New England begin putting out their vegetable plants for the season.  As soon as I see those 6-packs of lovely little plants, I want to load up my car and start planting!  But gardening in this area takes patience.  Inevitable we get a frost sometime in May and if you’re not vigilant in covering up your plants at night, you will be disappointed come morning.  This happened to me last week!  I had popped two basil plants into my raised beds, and with frost warnings for our area a few nights in a row, I covered them the first two nights, but forgot to the third night and this is what they looked like the next morning…
 
 So, have patience my friends, and wait until Memorial Day weekend!

 Two years ago, we put four raised beds in our back yard. 


We wanted to grow vegetables but because we live in a neighborhood with 100+ year old houses, our soil has a high lead content (probably from all the times the houses had been scraped and repainted with lead paint).  I had purchased the “All New Square Foot Gardening” book (http://www.squarefootgardening.com/), in which Mel Bartholomew describes how to grow more vegetables and flowers in less space using raised beds. After doing some research, we decided to follow his method.
 
 
I found these raised beds at Lowes, which were easy to assemble.  Following Mel’s instruction, we mixed equal amounts (measured by volume) of blended compost, peat moss and coarse vermiculite.  Combined properly, this mixture retains moisture, drains perfectly, and has all the nutrients and trace minerals a plant could ever want. (We did add some topsoil to the mix as well.)

 If you’re not using your own compost, try to buy various kinds so that you’ll be getting a variety of nutrients.  Options include worm casings, organic hummus, manure, and mushroom compost.

Peat moss is a natural material made up of decomposing plant material. A natural material made from decomposing plant material.  It improves existing soil by making it lighter and water retentive.

Vermiculite is mica rock mined out of the ground.  Once the rock is collected, it is ground up into small particles & heated until it explodes just like popcorn. The material is filled with nooks & crannies, which hold a tremendous amount of water and yet can breathe, making the soil extremely friable (crumbles easily) & loose.  The moisture is always there for the roots to absorb.

 
After mixing, shoveling and spreading, we used string to divide each bed into 1 foot squares. 


In each square we planted one type of plant.  

Depending on the size of the plant determines how many plants you can put in each square. 
For example:   1 broccoli plant (Extra Large)
                        4 Leaf Lettuce (Large)
                        9 Beets (Medium)
                       16 Radishes (Small)

                       





From our first crop we harvested:

79 green beans, 81 tomatoes, 20 zucchini, 5 strawberries, 16 cucumbers, 53 radishes, 11 summer squash, 6 heads of lettuce, 3 peppers and 959 (Yes- that number is correct!!) cherry tomatoes!  I also planted lavender, zinnias, marigolds and nasturtium.

This weekend I’ll be planting our beds…I’ll post pictures next week.
What do you plant in your garden?






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