With the high price of groceries these days it is satisfying to be able to grow your own choices of delicious vegetables and hearty herbs. There is nothing more rewarding then going out your kitchen door to snip a fragrant stock of lemon basil, grab a bunch of butter head lettuce or slice into a juicy heirloom tomato.
May is the start of the vegetable garden season so this is a good time to put together a raised bed. Some benefits to raised beds, they require less water, provide a larger harvest at a lower cost, use 20 per cent of the space of single row gardening and there is no need for tillers, add fertilizer or weed killer.
There are many things to consider when setting up a garden. First be aware of the amount of sunlight an area gets. Vegetable gardens require upwards of eight hours of sunlight to grow to their maximum potential. When placing your raised bed be sure that it is not under the shade of a large tree or in an area that puddles after a heavy rain. Also, make it accessible from your kitchen area.
When considering the width of the bed, make sure you are able to reach into the centre, providing you have access all the way around. The size of the boxes will vary depending on the space available. The beds can be 4 x 4 feet square or 3 to 4 feet wide by 5 to 6 feet long forming a rectangle. The height of at least 12 to 18 inches is deep enough for most vegetables to root properly. Redwood or cedar is the most popular woods used. Avoid the use of treated woods as toxins can leech into the soil. Put the bed together with galvanized or stainless screws or bolts. Consider lining the bottom with landscape fabric or fine mesh reducing chance of weeds growing up and keeping rodents from getting in.
The location has been picked, the beds are made, and one of the most important steps to consider is the soil. When developing a soil mix a basic formula should be followed. The combination of vermiculite (retains moisture in the soil), peat moss (makes soil lighter and looser) and blended compost and top soil will provide an excellent growing medium for your garden patch. A 4’X 4’ box holds approximately 8 cubic feet of mix so you will need about 2.5 cubic feet of each product.
Next to consider is how to water the area. Two of the best ways to get this done is applying a drip system along the bed or through the use of soaker hoses around the emerging plants. Mulching the bed with straw, grass clippings, leaves or wood chips will also help conserve water and reduce the presence of weeds.
Now it is time to get started, the local nurseries are stocked up with ready to plant seedlings and seed packs.
Over the next few months you will watch your garden thrive and you will be rewarded with the bounty it will bring.
Betty Drover and Patty Siddall operate a local garden business and will share their expertise in the Trail Times every other Friday. Contact Siddall Drover Garden Services at 250-364-1005