I decided to write this after reading a post in the Town and Country Gardening blog by Pobebt. Suburbia. That’s where I live. A tract home, on a standard .25acre lot. Neighbors to the left of me, neighbors to the right. Houses across the street and across the street that runs behind our house.
A successful (key word there) garden was my “white whale” (see Moby Dick for that reference). Always in sight, never within reach. Since my father had a green thumb, I wasn’t sure where I was going wrong. Had I inherited a recessive gardening gene? With the right choice of perennial flowers, I had lovely landscaping at most of the homes I lived in. Right meaning the kinds that are really hard to kill with the wrong amounts of water or fertilizing.
When I moved into our current house six years ago, I was determined. My honey was always asking me if I wanted some of the raised planter beds that many of the stores were selling. You know, the white vinyl, or wood look vinyl, six inch high raised beds. As I often say with my grands, “Icky, icky, bleh, bleh!” I did eventually decide on raised beds, but I wanted them made of wood, and tall enough to not have to bend too far. I am still not sure what spurred that on. My honey built them for me, two to start. After the first season, I was hooked, and so was 75 year old dad who lives with us. Around that same time, a new friend of mine suggested I watch a video online called Back To Eden Gardening. Thanks for the suggestion, I would. It was six months later that I finally got around to doing so. I was intrigued by the concept and decided to give it a try. I won’t go into details. The concept is simple, but you should watch the entire hour long video to understand it.
The first two beds were made of 2×6 redwood. My honey put the divider in the center not just to divide, but also to keep the sides from bowing outward in the future. We used pipe brackets to create the PVC hoops over the top. They were originally supposed to be used to cover the beds during the cooler months to extend the growing season, but that was a royal pain to open the plastic, get wet from the moisture when it is already cold outside, etc. so the hoops were unused until last year. Last year, the cucumbers and spaghetti squash were given a lattice to climb, effectively giving me some more space in the beds for non climbers. Leafy veggies that are prone to be eaten by moth larvae were covered with a screen I sewed out of fiberglass window screen material to cover half the bed to keep the moths out, but let sun and water in. Since it only covered half, it wasn’t hard to remove for harvesting either. There were rarely bug holes or eggs to wash off those veggies last year!
For anyone starting to garden, as Probebt mentioned, it can be tricky to figure out how many plants one can fit in a space, especially if you don’t know how large the mature plant will be. Here’s what I have learned: in a 4’x4′ square you can fit the following: 1-Two tomato plants on one side, with a pepper or two tucked into the middle, and a climber like cucumber on the other. The tomatoes will fill the bed and spill over the edges, the peppers will appreciate the shade as the tomatoes grow over them. 2- two zucchini or yellow neck squash per square. They need air around them to avoid mildew problems. Also, if they do get mildew, a mixture of baking soda and water sprayed on weekly helps. I would offer the recipe, but you will have to google it, since I did not write it down and will have to google it myself this year! 3- 24 garlic or onion plants. 4- 16 leafy plants, lettuces, spinach, chard. 5- 9-12 broccoli or cauliflower.
Hopefully that helps you in your gardening endeavors. May your garden be bountiful and full of bees to pollinate it!