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Sarah's Garden: Raised Bed Party!

It finally happened!!

baby vegetables

The raised bed has been filled with lots and lots and lots of dirt and sand and compost and now things are planted!  And lest you think it's small, let me tell you that it's ten feet long by three feet wide, and that's the inside measurements.

excuse the mess; I am in the process of "screening" out soooooo much garbage from the soil in the back

Having never had this much space to plant in, I didn't really know what I was doing.  Ha.  So we just kept filling my little car's trunk full of soil and compost and sand and rocks (for a layer of drainage on the bottom) and, yeah, it took a lot of dirt to fill that bed up.  But I knew it had to be done now since my tomatoes were huge and the giganto-bean was starting to climb up the blinds.  So yesterday afternoon I planted tomatoes (copia and black krim), three types of mustard greens, broccoli, bibb and romaine lettuce, some sort of long green pepper, cucumbers, thyme and chives.  That's a lot, but I was so excited about having MY OWN RAISED BED that I didn't mind.

sitting sturdily on cracked concrete

There are some things I think I should tell you, though, in case you are thinking about your own raised bed.  The first thing is that I have no idea if this will work.  The bed itself is made of untreated spruce.  I did not physically nail it together - that was my father who is good at things like that.  I was going to stain the whole thing, but after starting to stain that back lefthand corner of the bed I decided I didn't like the color.  But I was still a little worried about the wood rotting so I stained the inside with two coats and let it dry overnight.  I have no idea if this will help or not.  I also am unsure about drainage:  as you can see, the bed is on cracked concrete and there is also a large rectangle of dirt inside it so I figured that would be good for drainage.  I dumped a 2" layer of pebbles inside the bed before putting anything else in and then spread some of that black landscaper's fabric on the pebbles so that the dirt from inside the bed wouldn't impede drainage.  Then I did layers and layers of soil, sand and compost until the last foot or so which was just soil and compost.  The sand is to help with drainage but, again, I'm not sure if it will work.

welcome to your new home!

I think I have mentioned before that I have a bit of a cat problem, meaning that there are a few cats who like to use my yard as a litter box.  After filling this huge bed with soil, I realized it was basically just a huge litter box, so I covered it with tarps held down with bricks and other potted plants when I finished filling it this past weekend.  That was actually a good idea because it rained early in the week and I didn't want to plant in waterlogged soil.  The other plus from this was that when I lifted the tarps off (after a nice warm sunny day) the soil was nice and warm, perfect for little delicate baby plants.  And I should tell you here that I did something highly unorthodox:  I didn't harden off my little seedlings before putting them in.  Usually I do harden off, but this time was different.  [Hardening off is when you set your tender seedlings outside for a little bit more time each day to get them used to this new harsher environment slooooowly.]  My main reason for not hardening off is that these plants were grown in a less sunny window than what I'm used to and they were routinely subjected to temperatures as low as 55-60 degrees because I keep my house at a toasty 64 degrees in the winter.  I considered getting heat mats or grow lights, but the seeds seemed to be growing pretty well without any of that.  The (hopeful) payoff is that they're hardier than little seedlings grown in an 85 degree greenhouse.  And honestly, the tomatoes are so big they're probably past the hardening-off stage already.


I'm pretty comfortable with tomatoes and mine this year seem to be doing well.  But I planted all these other things that I've never tried before, like the gherkins above.  Cucumbers??  I have no idea what I'm doing.  They seem to be growing, though.  And on that note, THE BEAN:

bean in all its transplanted glory

This is another case when I didn't really know what I was doing.  I just went along and planted these beans and then hey, only one came up!  Turns out I should have soaked them overnight first.  But luckily the strongest bean in the world is growing right along and now has beans:


Now I am wondering if I should come up with some sort of contraption to keep the birds/squirrels/cats/racoons out of the raised bed or just hope for the best.  And maybe I need some irrigation?  Oh the possibilities!