It’s the first weekend of March, and despite all the snow outside spring is on the way!!!
Our package of seeds from Seed Savers Exchange has arrived, and we’re very excited for spring planting in the new raised bed garden my husband is going to build. The plan this year is to grow a garden using strictly heirloom seeds, and I’m really interested to see how they turn out. While I have never used any chemical fertilizers or pest management on our vegetable plot, this year we wanted to get really serious about the seeds we plant and see if we can get good production using solely heirloom seeds and organic fertilizers. Now, obviously, because we are not growing a large plot or doing any big-scale vegetable production, I think our chances for success are pretty good. The theory behind using a raised bed is that it will help me to keep up with the weeding and harvesting much more easily.
We’ve decided on a 4 x 8 frame that will be 10″ deep. Right now I am debating whether to rototill the soil before we install the bed frame (we are going to place it in the same spot as our original garden plots, or to start with some type of weed barrier at the base of the bed. On the one hand, we’ve had a few good years using that area of the yard, and have tilled it consistently and have never used chemicals on it. The thing is, we always lose the battle to invasive grass throughout the plot- which is why I want to switch to a raised bed. I’ve read in a few articles online that people often start with a base layer of cardboard to act as a weed barrier and it will naturally decompose eventually. Additionally, I don’t really want to spend a fortune on bags of potting soil… so I’m looking into more economical “make our own soil mix” methods that will use some of our own backyard soil, compost from the bin we started last year, and loads of manure. We’re going to use alpaca beans as our manure source, because it had a good amount of nitrogen and potassium, and can be used directly on the garden. It is not considered a “hot” manure and will not burn veggie plants when applied. It breaks down quickly with rain and watering and quickly improves garden soil. My dad has been using it for a number of years now and has had fantastic results with garden production.
The next thing I have to work on is plotting out how to plant this new garden for optimal production from the seeds we purchased. The peas are are actually not going in the bed because their trellising will take up so much space. For those, we’ll continue to use the pea fencing we installed last year for them. We’re also going to leave space to do multiple plantings of the lettuce to help spread out their season.
I know it’s still too early for us to get started with our garden here- snowing all week and the temps are still maxing out in the 30′s…but winter can’t last forever. Sooner or later, we’ll be starting these seedlings!