Friday, March 30, 2012

Simple and frugal raised beds

We always had a garden growing up.  When I was old enough, my mom gave me a little corner of the garden to take care of.  Watching those tiny seeds I planted turn into cucumbers was amazing!  And I think I may have been convinced to eat some things I had previously turned my nose up at.

Even now, gardening is still one of my favorite things about spring.  While growing your own produce is not difficult, it does require time and devotion.  But if you stick with it, you'll be rewarded with the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor.

Most of my yard is vary shaded, thanks to the 10+ enormous oak trees. (If anyone has a use for thousands and thousands of acorns, let me know, I've got you covered.)  There are few spots that get full sun for growing veggies, and most of them are not too big.  Last year, too much shade in combination with the searing summer heat left my garden somewhat lackluster.

So this year, I had the idea to plant some things in cement blocks in sunny spot in my yard.  Since these blocks are small and mobile, it seems to be a great solution.  Time will tell!

I did a little bit of research, gathered my supplies, and got my garden on yesterday afternoon.  The great thing about a cement block garden is that you can do it anywhere - no matter what type of soil or how little room you have.  Think of it as a simple and frugal miniature raised bed.

Here's how I home-made my own raised beds for sugar snap peas:
Preparing: Get yourself some cement blocks; select as few or as many as you need.  They're pretty cheap. Find them at Lowe's or other places with home/garden supplies.  Think about where your seeds will grow best, and muscle your blocks into place. Since I'm planting peas, I picked a sunny spot where they could trellis up the fence.
Soiling: Place a clean coffee filter in the bottom of each side of the block: To keep weeds from springing up underneath and and to prevent water from draining out too quickly.  Also cheap.  Fill up each hole with a potting soil/dirt/fertilizer of your choice.
Planting: I poked 2 holes with my thumb in each of the squares of the cement block.  (Spacing and planting depth depend on what you're going to grow - check your seed pack instruction.)  Drop a few seeds in each hole (usually 2-4).  Just cover them up with dirt,  give them a good water, and you're done!
Maintaining: sunshine, water, and waiting.  Can't wait to see (and eat!) what grows!
I'm even considering creating a square with some of the blocks, laying down a tarp and filling it up with soil for a larger raised bed.  Then, I can plant more in the cement blocks too.  I was a little worried that my yard might look a bit, um, "red-neck" with all of the blocks.  But now that I see it, it looks great - very clean and organized.  Just the way I like it!

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