Raised Bed Experiment
By Jenna Tyger
Summer 2012 was a bad one for gardeners. It was hot and dry here in Ohio. We had a pretty large garden, but got almost nothing out of it. It was largely our fault, because we did a poor job of weeding. I dread weeding, and will do anything to avoid it. With the size of our garden, it seemed overwhelming.
The garden is really my husband’s project. I don’t care for gardening all that much, though I do like knowing where our food comes from and that it isn’t covered in pesticides or who knows what else. This year, though, things have been a little different: Chris and my mother-in-law put in raised beds.
I thought that raised beds would be a good idea last year, but they can be expensive and a little daunting to start. My mother-in-law convinced my husband to give them a try. They put together several raised bed kits and added new dirt to them. They also added cedar and mulch around the beds to keep the weeds from growing around them.
They planted lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, green beans, cucumber, peppers, and watermelon in the raised beds. Separately they planted zucchini, cantaloupe, pumpkin, and potatoes.
What I love most about these beds is that weeding is a breeze, and I’ve even helped with it. Since the beds started with clean dirt, there aren’t nearly as many weeds as before, it’s not as overwhelming, and it has taken an hour or less to completely clear out the weeds. I highly recommend raised beds if you hate weeding as much as I do!
We had a fence around our garden, but did have some problems early on with rabbits and groundhogs eating the lettuce and broccoli. Since then, we added fencing around those individual raised beds. It was easy to do since they’re small areas; another positive of the beds. We haven’t had issues since we added the extra fencing.
We’ve gotten a good yield from this year’s garden, though that is also in part to the weather. It’s been pretty cool here this summer and we’ve gotten lots of rain. Good for the plants – not so great for those of us who are beach lovers.
By mid-summer we’d gotten lettuce, green beans, cucumbers, broccoli, and zucchini, along with a few peppers. Last week we pulled up lots of carrots, a couple watermelons, more green beans, and a pumpkin. Below are a couple pictures of the raised beds and our cucumber plants. We’re usually good at taking pictures of our gardens, but we forgot this year and only have a couple to show for it – which is too bad.
A couple plants that didn’t do particularly well. While we got a few zucchini, something seemed to happen to the plants mid-way through summer, so we didn’t get nearly the yield we’d hoped for. Our tomato plants fared the worst. We think the large amount of rainfall we got hurt them, and in the end we didn’t get very many.
Now we’re heading into fall and all we have left to pick are pumpkins and potatoes. Our pumpkins won’t win any prices for size, but they look cute. I’m looking forward to a big batch of potatoes – we’ll see how many we actually get. It’s sad (for me) to see all the plants dying off and turning brown, but time flies and we’ll be seeing green again in no time.
I enjoyed this raised bed experiment, and recommend giving it a try if you are feeling overwhelmed with your garden. Have any tips or experience with raised bed gardens? I’d love to hear them!
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