Raised Bed Garden 2015 Second Update

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It’s the beginning of August now and the garden is still thriving.  As an experiment this has been a huge success but also a learning experience.  Here are some of my own take aways from this experience.

Garden Size and Planting Style

4′ x 8′ was a good size for a raised bed garden.  Any wider and we would have had difficultly tending to things in the middle.  The Grid layout that we used was successful overall but this experience has taught me to change my approach in planting.  We planting in rows the plants in that row are all of a similar size.  When you plant within a grid however you have to very aware of everything around your plant.  I will cover this more in plant choices.  I think for next year we are going to add a second raised bed beside the first.

Plant Selections

This was a big learning experience for me.  Here is a break down and I what I learned about each of the plants we grew.

Cauliflower I would not grow this again.  It takes a long time to harvest and produces a single head.  In addition the leaves are large and take up lots of space. Each cauliflower could have easily filled its own square in the grid.  Space consumed compared to output this plant wasn’t worth it.
Cabbage Similar to cauliflower this plant takes up quite a bit of space, has a long harvest time, and produces one viable head.  If I planted this again it would be limited in number and on the outskirts of the bed.
Broccoli These were awesome!  The plant is larger but produced lots of florets over good span of time.  Everything from the stalk, leaves, florets, and even flowers are edible.  The only downside were the caterpillars that were particularly prolific.  I will most likely double the amount planted next year, but I think they are best planted toward a side.
Cucumbers I am amazed by many cucumbers we have harvested and continue to harvest.  The vines became so big that they grew out of the garden and into the yard until we gave them a trellis.  I will probably plant the same amount next year.
Tomatoes We grew both Roma and Grape tomatoes, planted mostly in the middle of the garden.  Both produced and continue to produce quite a bit of fruit.  The plants do seem to branch out and at least one of them reaches from one end of the garden to the other.  We harvested the Roma’s for sauce given most of the grape tomatoes away.  Next year I will most likely stick with just Roma tomatoes.
Celery Our celery grew tall but it remained thin and mostly leafy.  We never ended up harvesting it.  If we grow it again it will be in limited quantity.
Carrots Our carrots didn’t have much of a chance.  Planted towards the middle it seemed like something was always towering over them blocking out their sun.  If we plant them next year it need to be away from anything tall.
Potatoes Successful.  We will probably stick with 2 next year as well.
Bell Peppers We were really looking forward to these but they got a late start due to trying to compete with the cauliflower and cabbages for sun.  Once those were removed we have harvested a few peppers that had the most excellent flavor.  Next year we will most likely plant twice as many..

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Raised Bed Garden 2015 First Update

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Its been about a month now since we planted our garden and its coming along, though not as fast as I’d like.

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We ran a soaker hose strategically through the garden to make sure everything would get the water it needs. Afterwards we added some mulch to help keep the weeds down. The lettuce and broccoli are doing very well and have outpaced everything else growth wise. Everything feels so empty and I have this urge to plant more but wife is adamant that we already probably have too much. Shes probably right.

I’ve also picked up some berry bushes.  I bought a Blackberry, Blueberry, Red Raspberry, and ordered 3 Black Raspberry bushes online.  Our girls really like fresh berries so I’m very excited for them to be able to pick them when the time comes.  An interesting note, apparently Red and Black Raspberry’s don’t play well together so you have to keep them at least 75ft apart.

Berry Bushes

Berry Bushes

I’ve decided to look at gardening

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I’ve never had a particularly green thumb or even the inclination to play in the dirt. The idea of growing my own food however is appealing. At the high level you dig up some dirt, drop in some seeds, add water and bada-bing bada-boom food right? I always understood the premise but I have been skeptical about how much actual food you could produce from a normal sized garden. Some articles would have you believe that you can “Feed a family of 4” with a small backyard garden. I noticed that they never seem to say for how long though. A day? Week? Months?

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So being the prudent and responsible person that I am decided to jump right in with both feet! After all, easing in is for the uncommitted right? I’m fond of saying, “Everything’s simple, if you know how”, and this seems no different. Now that I had a goal I wanted to get started. I decided on a raised bed garden. Mostly so I could control the soil and partially because it means I get to make something. A couple of treated 2 x 12’s and some screws later and I’ve got me a genuine wooden rectangle.

The next step was to fill it with some dirt. We purchased various bags of organic garden soil and filled it up to about an inch or so from the top. Add in a dash of Perilite for soil compaction and good measure and we were ready to start planting.  If you’re wondering about the squares, they were created with jute twine.  What appears at first to be a geometry fetish is actually a system for laying out what you will plant.  Growing up, I had only seen gardens planted in rows.  My wife however advised me to get with the times and educated me on some alternatives.

All that’s left is for her to meticulously plan out which seeds go where while I sprinkle them around haphazardly to her dismay! (Kidding… mostly)