Raised Row Bed Garden

I finished a major backyard garden project within the past hour. I have put in a raised row bed garden. Inspired by a great website on how to do it (http://oldworldgardenfarms.com/2012/11/20/growing-simple-the-raised-row-garden-way/), I adapted their plan to the resources available to me and the conditions of my garden. That site provides an excellent, detailed description of how to do this.

First, I had made the commitment/decision last month to devote most of my back yard to being a food garden. My desire for fresh food over the years and my motivation towards sustained good health also pushed me in this direction. Second, I had to take into account the realities of my back yard (gophers). Third, I really did not want to till my soil. This meant, of course, that I had to make several trips to the home improvement store to get supplies.

The basic design is to alternate rows of soil (that sits atop the mulch) with walking paths that contain just the mulch.IMG_3081

How To: After taking some measurements, it looked like the best thing for me was to create three separate spaces: two 10 feet by 10 feet squares and one 8 feet by 4 feet rectangle. In all, I needed: (a) wood bark mulch (120 cubic feet), (b) organic gardening soil (30 cubic feet), (c) chicken wire – 2 rolls measuring 36 inches by 50 inches, (d) two boxes of garden staples or landscaping fabric pins, and (e) various vegetable and fruit seeds.

I put down the chicken wire first, cutting them at 10-foot lengths (and 8-foot length for the rectangular space) and keeping them in place with garden staples. I did this for each of my three raised-row spaces. You may skip this step if you don’t have a problem with burrowing animals. A nice benefit of this step is that it provides a good outline for pouring your mulch.

Each of the 10 feet by 10 feet squares required 55 cubic feet of wood bark mulch. This will not only ensure a comfortable step but will, importantly, reduce the chance for weeds. I just poured bags of mulch (each bag contains 2 cubic feet of hardwood mulch) over the chicken wire and used a bow rake (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rake_%28tool%29) to help distribute the mulch evenly. I split 27 cubic feet of garden soil between these two square spaces, creating 4 raised rows for each of these spaces.

The 8 feet by 4 feet rectangle required 10 cubic feet of wood bark mulch and 3 cubic feet of garden soil, which formed 1 raised row.

I then planted seeds into each row and watered the rows using the “mist” setting. I’m hoping that things will start growing in the coming weeks! I will thin the seedlings as needed at that time.

This project is doable for one person – as I did – but it takes some time. I purchased the supplies over two weekends, and installed the garden over two additional weekends. I took several resting periods every hour and drank plenty of water throughout, to make sure that I was in comfortable condition, and worked on the project during late afternoons, when it was cooler. This is a very labor-intensive project so any extra hands will certainly reduce the time it takes to enjoy your new (and hopefully prolific) garden!

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