As most of you know, late this summer we moved across town. One of the most difficult things that I had to do was leave behind what we designed and grew from nothing 13 years ago. Over those years, I turned a vacant lot into a lush oasis, filled with perennial walking gardens, blue stone patios, a fabulous chicken garden, a honeybee apiary and a lovely area of raised garden beds. My heart still pines for those gardens, wondering how they are growing without my daily tending. Weirdly, I miss my plants. I had no idea they were such a part of me. But with change, comes new opportunities and I got a head start on next year’s vegetable garden at the new place.
Fall is for Planning
Some people may be curious as to why I decided to begin my raised garden beds in the fall. Fall is the perfect time to get prepped for spring. By designing and creating this raised garden bed space, the beds will be ready for immediate planting come spring for cold weather crops. Fall is perfect for manual labor. Here on Cape Cod it is still balmy and not too hot for working. Another blessing, the humidity is gone as well. In the fall, the lawn prepares to go dormant. So if you are placing the raised beds on top of grass, it is, in my opinion, easier to kill off the grass in the winter versus in the spring. You can do this by placing a layer of cardboard on the bottom of the bed before you add soil.
Why Raised Garden Beds?
I knew that I wanted to use raised beds again for a few reasons. First, I love their versatility. I love that I can move and locate a garden simply wherever I want. I think it is fantastic that I can add onto the garden whenever I like by simply introducing a new raised bed or two. Using raised beds allows me to better control the quality of the soil with much less amending than I would need if I chose to plant directly into the ground. I can also control weeds better and watering is more efficient too. Lastly, small critters can easily be avoided by fencing off a single bed.
Adding Raised Beds to the Garden
I watched the sun cross the sky for the remainder of the summer and selected the perfect sunny spot. This spot receives at least 8 hours of sun per day. It is just what my veggies will need. I wanted it close to the kitchen and close to the chicken coop. I love to share what I grow with the flock! You can read more about gardening with chickens here. First up was building the raised cedar beds.
When selecting materials for raised garden beds, it is important to consider the possibility that chemicals in your wood can leach into your garden soil, so it is always recommended to avoid pressure treated wood. Garden beds made from pine will last about 5 years, but using cedar for raised beds will last much longer. I went with these gorgeous cedar raised beds from Gardener’s Supply Company. I love the fact that with these raised cedar garden bed kits they make gardening so simple. With two people each bed assembled in about 10 minutes. I must say I am impressed. The metal brackets on the corners are strong and sturdy, not flimsy in anyway. The cedar planks are cut right to length. The quality is superior.
After we built the raised beds, we moved them about the garden area for perfect placement. Then I added a mixture of soil and compost with a bit of peat moss too. Garlic is planted in the fall, so we quickly added in some wonderful cloves of hardneck garlic. Then we tucked them in for winter with a good mulching of shredded straw. One garden bed down with five more to go!
This project took one weekend day from start to finish. This fall, I would encourage you to plan your raised bed gardens now. I am so thrilled that I can jump into spring’s planting season without any preparation. It’s all ready to go. The hard part is going to be peering at these gorgeous empty beds all winter long covered in snow. Just like all gardeners, I can’t wait for spring to arrive.
Stay tuned for more posts getting started with raised bed gardens and what my plans are for the spring.
Disclosure: Gardener’s Supply Company generously supplied me with these cedar raised beds. The opinions in this post are all mine. I was very impressed by the craftsmanship and quality and I know you will be too! Click here to purchase these beds.