Garden Season 2016: Raised Bed Adventure
I got busy with a new job in 2014 and didn't update the blog. In 2015, I didn't keep a garden, because of the dry winter and the drought in general. This year, we've had a wet winter, and I'm back!
Readers familiar with my garden pictures may remember the black plastic 6-inch raised beds that I've had for years. They were great when I started, but over time the flaws became unignoreable. Too many of the sides had gone more horizontal than vertical. The deep grooves in the inner part of the side made great places for snails to hide. The spacing of the beds was too narrow for a lawnmower between the beds and the back fence, so we had to use a weed whacker to maintain the grass there. The black plastic got very hot in the sun, a feature in the spring when the beds warmed up for planting, but less welcome in the summer and early fall. I didn't keep the beds weeded properly during their fallow period in 2015, and thick mats of grass got established in them. Ugh. Time to start over!
First to sketch up what I wanted, based on measurements of the width of a lawnmower (I allowed 26") and the room that we had. I came up with the following placement:
Good, and now for the beds themselves! I wanted something that will last the next 12 - 15 years we are likely to be living here, be more structural and upright, and not soak up the sun like black plastic. And be taller-- 12" raised beds will make me happier. I decided to go with make-them-yourself wooden raised beds, using premade and predrilled aluminum corner kits. The best combination of expense and functionality that I found were the Gardener's Supply raised bed corners (and the corresponding inline middles).
What to use for wood? I originally thought of using Trex, but it's super duper expensive. Many gardeners recommend cedar, due to its rot resistant properties. That was $1.80 a linear foot, and I would have needed about 438 board feet. Ouch. To my surprise, "common" (not heartwood) redwood turned out to be surprisingly affordable. A woodworker friend says that only the heartwood redwood is really rot-resistant, so we'll have to see how that goes. Nothing else I've read says that. So we are going with common redwood.
I'm busy this coming weekend, Mike is away the following weekend, I guess the last weekend in March will be our mad scramble to finish all the beds to start our growing season. Though I hope we can work on them in the evenings after work instead, and get some of them going. I'd like to plant cilantro and lettuces now while it's cooler!