Sunday, April 24, 2011

Raised beds part 1

Within my family my ability to kill anything resembling plant life has been legendary. It was always sort of a shame I carried. My mother, of course, possessed a ridiculous ability to garden and could make anything grow where ever she wanted. Her daughter, me, on the other hand......not so much.

I think, frankly, most people were amazed I managed to keep my children alive based on how poor my gardening performance was.

So last year when I decided that I wanted to begin producing more of the stuff my family eats I felt the weight of a thousand dead plants on my shoulders. The fact is though, I believe we are headed toward a future where growing what we eat may become more than a "hobby", it may become the difference between eating and starving. So I knew I needed to learn at least how to grow it before the time to "play" with gardening had passed.

To be fair I love many, many aspects of gardening but I don't know that I could say I actively enjoy it. This "hobby" is my prep work to feeding my family. I love seeing something I planted from seed become something I can consume and know that I did all the work for it. But love it? Not so sure.

Anyways....last year I experimented growing food in containers and was surprised at my successes and learned a lot from both success and failure. This year we decided to step it up a little bit.

Having an actual garden in my suburban back yard has many challenges but the biggest ones are my dogs. They dig. And destroy. I don't have grass in most of my back yard because of them. So having a raised bed seemed like a better choice for me.

My father in law is an artist when it comes to construction and he agreed to build me some raised beds. My mother in law had a great idea about having a break in the middle and the actual design because she loves landscaping.

Yesterday we broke ground, as it were, on my raised beds.

That's the view from my kitchen door facing into my backyard. That's my husband working on a tree stump that was refusing to rot like it should and was impeding my raised bed progress.

That's my son and my mother in law supervising the construction in the relative safety of the gazebo.

That's the finished product. You'll notice two raised beds separated by a mini-pergola in between. We will be adding chicken wire to the outside as protection from the dogs getting into the beds and putting stone under the beams to create a pathway. You can also seen one of my dogs and my lack of grass. It's sad.

Raised beds measure 12 ft long by 3 feet wide by 18 inches high. Plenty of space for tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, peas etc. I'm pretty excited to get those beds filled and get started planting but that's probably another 2 weeks off or so.

I'll show you part 2 once I've got everything in.

I feel like this is working towards the big time and while I know not even a garden this size could ever really provide everything my family needed it terms of sustenance I feel like it's a great start.


Andrea said...

That's really pretty, the pergola, that is. I have something like that in my garden too...with 2- 8ft beds on either side for blueberries, rhubarb, herbs and grapes. Plus it's a nice place to sit and hide from the world at times :)

Kris said...

VERY cool raised beds and pergola. Are you going to square-foot garden? It really is a great way to maximize growing space. Also check out the book "Carrots love Tomatoes" by Louise Riotte, on companion planting.

My back yard will soon look like yours, with the combination of little rain, small space and a big dog. My husband is sick over it. I say it's just part of owning such great animals :)

Bitsy said...

I, too, am the butt of family jokes because I can't seem to grow anything. I've killed a cactus. (Apparently, they DO need water.)

I am trying my hand at a small garden this year, too. It's mostly an experimental thing, since my knowledge about plants is pretty minimal. But, I have high hopes.

I love your raised beds! Hubby didn't have the time to do something like that for me though, and I don't have the skills.

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