BUILDING A RAISED BED
Growing organic vegetables in your own back yard is something every home owner who owns land should take part in. There are many reasons to do this. The best quality vegetables are grown by home owners.
1. Building raised beds and mixing your own organic soil can provide you with superior nutritional organic vegetables and a greater yield for the space you have available. Raised beds can be placed anywhere on your property where you have good sun even in locations like rock outcrops or other places where plants can’t grow.
2. Harvesting your crop at maturity is the most nutritional time to pick your vegetables. Direct from the vine to the kitchen table provides you with the greatest nutrient rich vegetables. Farmers do not have that option because the shelf life is too short and they need to pick their crop prior to maturity.
3. There is a much larger seed selection to choose from by growing your own vegetables. Varietal differences can make a difference. Trading these secrets with fellow gardeners and saving your own seed can be part of the fun in growing your own organic vegetables.
4. Vegetable gardening can be a part of a family activity. There is nothing more rewarding than to have a child grow and eat the vegetable he or she grew. There are hundreds of lessons that a child learns when working with nature
5. Prior to planting your vegetable garden is the perfect time to build raised beds. They are quick and easy to install. Raised beds provide a neat clean look. They can be bordered with flowering plants to enhance the look.
My grandchildren live in Silicon Valley, California. Brody who is in 8th grade decided last year he wanted to grow vegetables. My daughter Tonja was excited with the idea and encouraged him by giving him a small plot in her flower garden. He planted strawberries, sweet peppers and greens. Tonja got him 5 containers to plant tomatoes in and they were eating tomatoes off the vine until February of this year.
Last year was the drought in California and Tonja used only recycled water for her garden. Her yard was the only one in the neighborhood that was filled with beautiful flowers. She was chastised for using up precious water. She told her neighbors my father wrote a book “12 Steps To Natural Gardening” and he wrote a chapter addressing our water problem by writing a “Drought Survival Manuel”. She said we followed dad’s recommendations and did not use any additional water for the garden. This year California will have lots of water and watering will be a simpler task.
I know we all live busy lives and feel we don’t have time to grow our own vegetables. My grandchildren are incredible athletes and are doing fantastic in school. Brody stars in soccer, football, basketball and baseball. Besides playing on the school teams he plays on traveling teams. Theoretically he has no time to grow vegetables and yet he finds the time to do so. His success in gardening last year has motivated him to garden again this year.
Brody wanted to enlarge his garden and I recommended that they put in a raised bed. Once you get hooked into gardening you become part of the hook that nature has on you. She is our greatest teacher and her life teaching lessons are rewarding and compelling.
When visiting in California I volunteered to help. I advocated building a raised bed. It ended up being a great learning experience for Brody. Our first job was to search for a sunny location that would fit into the look of the back yard.
They live in a typical California neighborhood. Wide streets with plenty of street parking and plenty of room for two way traffic. ¼ acre lots evenly devided down the street. Small attractive front yards, Remodeld or tear down houses becoming larger houses as the demand to live there increases, back yards made as large as possible by moving the house close to the street, all back yards sharing common redwood fences providing screening.\
Every inch of space is utilized to its maximum. Planning is very important.
Searching for the perfect spot required planning. We found the perfect location with full sun bordering the backyard side fence. Here we could neatly position a 4’x8’ raised bed. We sent Brody’s father Jason out to pick up 2” thick and 12” wide frasir fir lumber. 2 pieces 8’ long and 2 pieces 4’long and 12 narrow screws 1 ¾” long. He came back with treated lumber and we had to send him back to exchange it. The toxins in treated lumber will leach out and contaminate the soil. Jason got his powered screw gun out and on the flat lawn we screwed the rectangular box together. We screwed the 4’ piece onto the back side of the 8’ pieces matching the 4’ piece perfectly even at a rectangle to the 8 ‘ pieces.
We put one screw in at the top. We repeated this procedure at the other end. Once we had all 4 top screws in we kicked out the boards to line up perfectly at the bottom and we put in the bottom screw. We then put in the 4 remaining screws in the middle for added strength. While we held the boards together while Brody drove in the screws. We taught him to apply strong pressure evenly, straight and square, go slowly and don’t jerk. It was amazing what a great job he did and he had his first lesson on carpentry skills.
While Jason was picking up the lumber I transplanted several small plants and leveled the area. The structure was heavy so we called out the girls and Brody’s brother and carried the raised bed in place. The project was completed within an hour and it looked great in its location. I gave them my formula from my book and told them to fill the rest out with organic soil. I like to fill my beds to within 1” of the top.
My formula has 11 ingredients to additionally mix in. If available, more can be added such as your own compost. The greater the mix the greater the nutrient value. I now know with this great mix of organic products that Brody will have success in growing nutrient rich organic vegetables. To read more about this review my chapter The Vegetable Garden on page 157 in my book “12 Steps to Natural Gardening”
Growing organic vegetables can become a family project bringing the family closer together.