Thursday, July 2, 2015

making beds

Every year we take on at least one large project in the garden. Our first summer we began a vegetable bed that is about 10 feet by 70 feet. Removing the sod and putting up a rabbit fence, we set about conditioning the native soil and putting seeds and plants into the ground.

As the first season progressed we added our chicken house.

It was a good year for our first. I learned a great deal about what to grow and what not to bother with. How much work it takes to keep out unwanted flora and fauna. How much less resilient my knees, back and hands have become.
Eventually we were forced to come to terms with how poorly our soil drains, how each spring
we've missed early season growing opportunities waiting for the ground to dry out enough to plant.  Raised beds would solve this and other problems and they got moved to the top of our list for this season. While working on improving the health of our soils our efforts unintentionally resulted in improving the health of invasive grasses and weeds as well. With a long range goal of garden maintenance within our physical abilities andwanting to construct beds that would last at least as long as we do, and within our pocketbook, we agreed that our best option would be to build them of some sort of solid wood beams. The beds would have to be reachable from either side and no longer than the present garden plot. What could we find that was about the size and shape of railroad ties but aren't railroad ties?? Since I had already planted a good portion of the old bed, this season we would limit ourselves to just 5 beds. We would need 3 beams for each bed.
We found a mill that was willing to sell us 15 newly though somewhat  roughly cut white oak beams each a bit over 9 feet long. Jerome and Phil made several trips to and from the mill bringing them home in the Explorer in small groups due to their considerable weight.

Now all we needed to do was cut them to size and move them into position. Ha! Did I mention that each beam weighed close to 200 pounds?? That they were solid white oak, undried?
A challenge to cut, a challenge to move into place, a challenge to secure together.

Here is Jerome using the cute little cart that we bought at our local agri-center during their famous spring sale event. We use our trusty riding mower to pull it. That little cart was just strong enough to move the short pieces. How we moved the longer ones would have made an hysterical video. We'll bring out those memories when we need a good laugh at ourselves. Needless to say, the beds came together primarily due to Jerome's generosity and determination.

Planting the first bed!

So this year's garden is half raised beds, half ground level. Weeding, planting and harvesting the raised beds is a dream come true. I love intensive gardening. I don't even mind often watering the beds now since they drain faster than ground level. I've always found watering to be meditative. Oh, and since I began this post a day or so ago, the moles have begun to tunnel under these beds as well. Any ideas on getting rid of the critters??????


  1. Raised beds must be so much easier to manage - apart from moles that is! I am sure you must get so much pleasure from daily harvests :-)

  2. I love watching the progress you and Jerome are making, and your teamwork warms my heart. Those oak beams will likely last forever! And they are so, so beautiful. xo