Yesterday, Clayton and I were complimented on our green thumbs for our vegetable gardens and flower beds. Gardening is something we enjoy as farmers and caretakers of the land. I know many people think it’s a hassle or too much work but we both love the gardens and the harvests we produce. There is something about the fact that we can walk into our garden and harvest the vegetables for our meals or on a hot summer night like Monday night we can have a fresh salad! And as for the flowers, who doesn’t love pulling into there house and seeing beautiful blooms?!? I do!
For the past three years Clayton and I have had a garden at the farm which is huge. Like 50 feet x 60 feet huge and well it just was getting to be too much. We don’t live on the farm so at nights we wouldn’t work on it like we should and it always grew up in weeds while we worked hard to keep it weeded and the plants beautiful. This year we decided to make some raised garden beds in our own backyard because the soil isn’t the best in our yard and we knew we needed a better base for the plants. We could not decide on what size to make these but settled on four beds that would be 12 feet long by 4 feet wide.
The next dispute we needed to solve were how high to make the beds. We decided to compromise and make two 34.5 inches high and two 23 inches high. This allowed us to put the shorter plants in the higher beds and the taller and vine plants in the lower beds. Clayton wanted to make all the beds 46 inches high and I had to remind him I am short (5′ 4″-ish) and pregnant! My belly would not allow me to work in them for long! I do think the heights we choose are perfect, Clayton thinks they should all be taller.
We built our beds in the garage during the end of winter and then moved them to our yard the end of March, that is why you may see a handle on the ends. We then filled them with dried calf manure on the bottom half and compost (garden mulch) that we make and sell on our farm on the top half. As we filled them we discovered they were good playpens for Nora!
In mid-May to the end of May, after the last hard frost we began planting our seeds and plants. I placed seeds for green beans, yellow beans, three varieties of lettuce, spinach, and carrots and onion sets. I have my herb garden in the raised bed as well which includes basil, oregano, flat leaf parsley, curled parsley, mint, lemon balm, sage, pineapple sage, lavender, dill and thyme. We also planted three varieties of tomatoes, five types of peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, eggplant, brussels sprouts and cabbage. The last items we have in our garden are spaghetti squash, watermelon, cucumbers and pickling cucumbers that we are trying on a trellis. This year is our first year with the raised beds so it’s completely a trial and error process for the trellis, so far so good but it’s only June.
My husband also decided we should add drip lines to the raised beds so that we wouldn’t have to remember to water. this certainly helps the plants grow as well! That Clayton is a planner and thinker, he also added a few solar lights so we can work late into the evening as the sun is setting.
The beds have been easy to maintain and to weed as we walk out out back door to the garden. We can work on them anytime of day, I find naptime and evenings after Nora’s asleep the easiest. We are so impressed with how well our plants are growing, how large in size the plants are, and the amount of things that are starting to produce. We can see zucchini and yellow squash blooming and starting and have a few pepperss started as well. We harvested our first lettuce and spinach this week and I have been using the herbs since May. There is nothing better than a fresh salad after a long day at the farm and my husband even agrees to that as long as we grill up some steak or chicken to add on top. We can’t wait to add peppers to those salads too.
I’ll keep you posted as our garden grows and will let you know how these raised beds work out for us. So far it’s a win!