Friday, March 25, 2011

Raised Beds, Quick and Easy

I finally got my onions planted this past Wednesday, just ahead of the next bout of rain (which made for a rather scary storm at that).  They should have gone out around the first of March, but hopefully there is still enough time for them to make some nice bulbs.

I have a hard time placing some of the smaller plants in my garden.  They seem to get swallowed up by the larger crops.  So I've decided to put in a series of raised beds on my property and take advantage of the added growing space.  Last year, I built my first raised bed for my everbearing Ozark Beauty strawberries and I love how easy raised beds are to work.

This 3'x18' bed I put in all by myself, without the help of my Bright-and-Shining-Farmer.  It only took me about an hour to build.  The process of filling it with compost, however, took quite a bit longer, totalling nine wheelbarrow loads.

I have a huge pile of rough cut oak lumber that was given to us by my brother-in-law.  He was going to burn it!  My father-in-law had bought it from a local lumber mill a few years ago and there was a lot left over after he built his barn.  We thought we'd use it to build a small goat barn, but that project is currently on the back burner.  There may still be enough left in the pile for that, even after I build five more raised beds.

This rough cut oak won't last forever, but it will last a long time.  I compost all of the bark from our wood pile and even buried, untreated wood takes a long time to break down.

I don't use any hardware or fasteners to assemble my raised beds.  I cut 18" long stakes and use them to hold the boards in place.  Stakes are easily replaced if necessary and when the boards do begin to rot, I can easily slip them out and replace them with others.

My little Garden Helper assisted me in planting the whole thing full of red onions, yellow onions and garlic.  This was a nice project for her to take part in and I just turned her loose with the bag of onions.

I was very particular in spacing mine, but hers were poked into the soil very close together.  It won't hurt a thing - we'll just "thin" them a bit later as we enjoy the young, green onions.

The wind was picking up ahead of the big storm, but we were able to get them all planted in time.  My helper had a good time digging in the dirt.

She was rewarded with a page of candy buttons for her labor.

Here is an article from Grit magazine with some helpful tips for growing good storage onions.  One thing that they did not mention is that you don't need to completely bury your onion sets.  I poke mine lightly into the soil with 1/3 to 1/2 of the tip showing.  You will get bigger bulbs this way.

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