Thursday, October 4, 2012

31 Days of October: Day 4... Making the (Raised) Bed... part 1

We've decided to build some raised beds in our back yard, mainly due to the fact that I was craving kale.  Yes, KALE. The leafy green stuff that everybody is making into chips and health drinks.  I'm curious about the kale chips but NOT the health drinks.  Ick!

A couple years before my Dad passed away he grew a big patch of kale in his huge garden.  That was the best tasting kale I've ever, ever had.  It was mild and tender and so very abundant!  I cooked it several different ways but my favorite was just straight up steamed with salt served with a side of bread and butter pickles.  I am salivating just thinking about it.

The memory of my Dad's kale from nearly 15 years ago is what prompted me to prompt my husband to help me build a raised bed garden so that I can eventually grow my own kale.  Note to self:  Things that may seem insignificant to me may one day, even 11 years after my death, influence my children to do something that they will blog about.  Behave accordingly!!!

We are choosing to build this bed in Fall so that it will be ready to plant as soon as the soil is ready. Our ultimate goal is to have all our raised beds in a potager-style layout. Potager gardens are basically kitchen gardens that combine English function with French styling.  In order to keep our soil contained we temporarily place cinder blocks.  They don't decompose, can be placed to create almost any shape bed and are fairly easy to store.  They are heavy and take a while to move but we felt the benefits outweigh the negatives.

Here is a picture taken from our back deck.  The shed looks awfully small in this picture but it is fairly large, 12x24.  You can just see the cinder blocks to the left side.  This is the north end of the shed so anything planted there will have to require little sun.  As we expand the garden area we will be able to accommodate different levels of sunshine needs.

Next is a closeup of our intended bed.

Layering cardboard to kill the grass beneath.

The picture above is a view from the garden area toward the back deck.  Next we layered ash, compost (see the eggshells?) and the leftovers from different bags of potting soil that I had used for containers last year. 

Next we set sections of perforated pipe.  Think of these as mini-composters.  When the soil is finally built up around them, compostable kitchen scraps can be thrown in and nutrients will leach out.  We will cover them with something that can be easily lifted and replaced, probably with upside-down clay pots.

At this point it started to rain so we decided to put all our tools away and do a couple quick outdoor chores before going in and cleaning up.  It was a good place to stop anyway since we need to get more ingredients to build the soil.  I'll continue this story another day!
Read part 2 here.

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