When we moved, I had my mind pretty much set on doing mostly raised beds. In the past, I’ve always done the traditional row gardening, and while it worked, I wanted to try something different. Since it rains for much of the spring in Ohio, using a raised bed would more or less eliminate the worry about things getting too swampy. Also, I’ve read several places (and I agree) that it’s a more efficient way of gardening. I’m not a large-scale farmer with acres to plant, so planting 15 rows of vegetables, with 2′ between every row, didn’t seem like the best use of the space I had. And of course, my soil is pretty much solid clay, which does not make for the best carrots, so by raising them up, I can create a much better growth medium.
In March, I built six 4′ x 8′ beds out of cedar, which I chose for its natural rot-resistance. I was going to start with two or four beds this year, but since I don’t really ease into anything, I did six. I filled each with equal amounts peat moss, vermiculite, and compost, and voila, we’re ready to plant. Easy as that. I do have some chicken wire around the perimeter to keep some critters out, but this will be replaced by something more permanent eventually, once I expand. Think white picket fence style.
In addition to the vegetable beds, we also have a side yard, maybe 100′ by 60′, that’s more or less been entirely converted to fruit production. I put in a few raised beds for raspberries and strawberries, and planted a bunch of grapes, blueberries, cherries, peaches, apples, currants, an apricot, and a pear tree. No partridge in said pear tree though. I could have waited on all this stuff too, but my thinking was that it’s going to be several years before most of it yields anything, so why wait to plant it and lose another year? That and I tend to try to do everything at once, if you haven’t gotten that yet.
I have several more areas that could be used for future expansion if it comes to that, but I think I’m sticking with what I’ve got for this year. Needless to say, I’m excited to see how the vegetables produce this year, and I’m looking forward to someday picking ripe peaches off the tree on a late July afternoon…
Any of you have any advice, recommendations, or stories about starting your gardens?