The Raised Bed Instance


Posted by Aimee | Posted in Raised Beds | Posted on 15-04-2009

So, to start this gardening adventure I looked into soil prep. First I had planned to till up the soil and plant things into the ground, that is what we had always done growing up but then I read about the damage you do to the good soil organisms and all the additives needed to make solid clay into friable soil. After a bit of research it seemed the best option for us would be raised beds. So we made our first one out of untreated pine boards to avoid any of the chemicals used on treated wood from leaching into the soil. Though they say now that the chemicals used on the treated wood should be safe for building a garden bed, I am more of a better safe than sorry sort of person.

However you do not need to go buy lumber, there are a lot of options available for making raised beds, such as metal sheeting, scrap lumber or wood sheeting, cinder blocks or just stacked rocks if you happen to have an abundance of them on hand. For us, the pine boards seemed the most economical, since I do not trust myself to not get cut on metal sheeting, which would have been cheaper and likely more durable than the wood. After building our garden bed we roughed up the grass within the bed a bit. That experience alone attests to the exercise a person can get gardening, you could undoubtedly skip this step but I thought that it may make it easier for roots to penetrate into the clay with a bit of transitioning. In retrospect I wish I had laid down a couple layers of newspaper but there is always next time.

Fiercely Protected Tomatoes

Fiercely Protected Tomatoes

Then we filled our bed with a mixture of approximately one-third organic matter (compost and peat moss), one-third vermiculite, and one-third garden soil. It did take a bit of elbow grease to get it all well mixed, but then I got to plant my tomato plants. I was so excited I couldn’t help going to check on them a few times later in the evening. Just in case some evil tomato-stealing bandits happened past and my precious tomatoes needed my fierce protection.

I did in all of this make one major mistake that I know of, I ordered my tomato plants from a mail order catalog excited to try a couple varieties not available locally. The problem comes in that they did not ship my tomatoes to me until mid April. This sounded fine to me when I made the order but of course I am used to Missouri weather, we still get snows in April. Snow in April is not a common problem down here. I learned that it will likely get too hot for my tomatoes to produce before they reach maturity but I still have hope. It seems tomato seeds should be started indoors in early to mid January and transplants set out with protection in early to mid March. I was thinking of starting my eggplant and squash soon, I sure hope it is not too late for them. In Missouri we would have started plants indoors about now to go out in a month or so. I guess it is going to take me some time to adjust to the local Houston weather. I will see how the plants handle the summer weather, it is much warmer now than I expected.

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