I have always gardened, but this year I did things a little bit different. I created a raised bed garden out of recycled materials, home made compost and seeds only, no transplants.
Follow along as I go through the spring, summer and fall with my new raised bed garden. I make mistakes and learn as I go but in the end, I get to enjoy my own home grown produce.
My raised bed garden
I had a large side yard next to the house which was formerly the dog run (no more dogs). Against the house was a four foot high stack of bricks. They matched the house, so maybe they were left over of the previous homeowner left them there for another project. I wanted to reuse or recycle as many things for this project as possible, so they were handy.
My son and daughter helped me construct the bed with the bricks which ended up being about 10 feet long, three feet wide and three bricks deep.
After constructing the bed, I lined the bottom with multiple layers of newspaper for weed control then I did nothing for a few months during the winter. When it started to warm up, I threw a dusting of lime on top, then soil and amendments. I used Miracle Gro garden soil (eight or so big bags), mushroom compost, cow manure, fertilizer, red sand, and my own home made compost. The red sand I have had in the garage for a number of years. The organic fertilizer I purchased last year, the cow manure was new as was the muchroom compost.
I purchased the green fence in the picture from the home improvement store for about ten dollars. I have a plague of cats and rabbits in the neighborhood who like to make mischief when I am not around. I used to have a roll of chicken wire, but it disappeared in the past few years, so I had to make a small investment.
What I planted first
Peas - There is nothing like fresh peas in the early summer.
Radishes - I've always had success with radishes in containers so I thought I would give this a go.
Carrots - My carrots in the past have been stunted, bent, short or generally unhappy. Wish me luck with this one.
Corn - I love fresh corn and thought this would be a neat experiment.
Wax beans - Received a pack from Mike the Gardener so I planted a few to see how they would fare.
First planting results
I started planting in late the middle of March. I didn't look like we would have another freeze (I was wrong) so I planted peas, one cauliflower, some radishes and carrots. I later added corn in the center.
First were peas. Those brackets are upside down tomato cages which I tried as a support for the pea pods later in their growing life.
We did have one more freeze which killed off half the peas. The rest are thriving, slowly.
Two months into the project. At least one rain shower a week, cooler than normal weather, one minor frost (ouch), regular watering on dry days, and once a week watering with seaweed extract.
Half the peas didn't make it. At least two of the pea plants are stunted and chewed up by some insect.
The carrots are spacing themselves out and thriving.
The radishes started slow, suffered some insect vandalism, but are hanging in there.
The corn is shooting up as the days get warmer.
New gardener advice
Plants do poorly when stressed. Keep a regular water and feeding cycle for healthy results.
Another updated photo of raised bed garden
I "harvested" some peas today, in fact all of them which were ready. I say "harvested" because I didn't need a combine or tractor to bring in the crop. Rather, everything edible fit in a single, small container.
I shelled and cooked the peas in water, then served with salt and butter. They were delicious and gone all too soon. The total yield of my first attempt at peas was less than one cup.
What I learned:
Start peas early. It went from cold to cool to hot in my neck of the woods in less during the month of May. Instead, I will try peas again in the early fall and attempt to get a crop before the first frost. I will probably pull the pea plants in the next week or so and replace with more corn, which is doing very well right now.
Garden Update June
As summer approaches, I have added a few new vegetables to my raised bed garden. I will eventually pull the pea plants (about four left) as they are no longer producing. My corn, which is four plants each inside of the tomato cages, are all growing fine. Around the cages, I planted golden wax bush beans from Mike the Gardener where the previous pea plants had died.
The next section was open so I planted a variety of Burpee Garden Bean Gourmet Mix that I picked up at the home store this weekend. The seed variety is starting to taper off at the big box stores so get to your home improvement or garden store soon before they pull their stock.
In the next section, I have radishes and added a few more where there were open spots.
The next section was also open so I planted two kinds of squash, Dark Green Zucchini and Round Zucchini. I am not a big fan of squash, but it does well in warm weather and I thought it would be fun to grow something I never have before.
Finally, the last section are my carrots. The tops are filling out, but the two sample carrots I pulled are scrawny so far. I think that the carrots may be too late in the summer to do well or the soil is lacking depth. We will see.
June Garden Update #2
I pulled the pea plants today and planted more corn. I already have enough beans planted near the corn as well as in a separate section which was empty up until now. We have had a record amount of rain this month which has helped my raised bed garden, but the bean plants are growing very slowly - I don't know why.
June Garden Update #3
A note on growing radishes. Mine started slow but then took off. A few seeds did not germinate leaving "holes" in my radish section so I planted some more. It is about time to harvest some of the larger radishes and afterward, plant new seeds in the space left. I have been planting normal radishes, but have some "Easter Egg" variety I will try next.
Meanwhile, in the compost..
My sad little pea plants. I pulled them and tossed them into the compost pile where they stared forlornly at me. I covered them with dirt out of guilt.
Updated garden pictures
My Burpee bean mix is coming up with the purple variety leading the pack. There are two others planted but only one has sprouted. After these grow to a certain height, I will do a second planting.
Mid June and my squash is coming up. Out of six plants, four have sprouted and are enjoying the random rain we keep getting. The rain is unusual as June represents the beginning of the drought season which lasts until August.