Raised beds in the vegetable garden

In the last 2 days, we’ve received 2.5 inches of rain.  That doesn’t include the drizzle we had earlier in the week last week.  This spring has been cool and wet, and if it weren’t for the raised beds and the hoophouse, I’d still be waiting to get to work in the garden.  As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been thinking about raised beds as a strategy to get me in the garden earlier.

Looking at the hideous weed patch formerly known as my garden, thought became action the weekend before last (June 6-7) before I lost the USB cable.


With some alders our friend Bill helped us remove a few weeks ago, I began building raised beds.  I turned the bed with the broadfork, removed the worst of the weeds, and dug out the paths, adding the soil to the beds, along with a giant load of compost.  Note the remaining brush beyond the garden fence.


I had enough trees to do 2/3 of the garden.  This will be a good test to see if the raised beds are easier to work in, and dry out earlier next spring than the rest of the garden.


After finishing the first 1/3, I stopped for a break and planted the long-suffering leeks.

After my break, I had a brainstorm.  Our clay soil is so lumpy and stony, I decided to screen it as it went into the raised beds from the paths.  The plastic tub holds newspaper, which I used under the wire fence and under the log along the fence to keep down weeds.


I screened out a lot of rocks, and many more lumps.  Beautiful, eh?  I think I’ll try carrots one more time.

Dan and I worked more on this project on Saturday.  Dan got the remaining path weeded, and was able to salvage many volunteer sunflowers, and mulched.  I turned the soil and added compost, then planted Yellow Crookneck, Flying Saucers and Sunburst summer squash, Small Sugar Pumpkin, and Futsu Black winter squash along the fence, with more sunflowers seeded amidst the squashes.  My favorite Costata Romanesca zucchini will go in the remaining weedy spot in the center, with pole beans flanking it.  Tomorrow, I hope, as the weather calls for sun.  Maybe.


6 Responses to “Raised beds in the vegetable garden”

  1. El Says:

    Good for you, Ali. I think raised beds really help with clay. (Rocks, though: well, you DO live in Maine!) And having smaller areas (beds) to weed and tend likewise helps speed things up outside. Now, though: I hope you don’t obsess about the weeds in your paths like I seem to do…

    And I am quite taken with your broadfork.

  2. Daphne Gould Says:

    I love using trees to line my raised beds too. Most years we have such a wet climate it would be hard to garden without a raised bed. I love mine. I’ve never thought to screen my soil. I ought to do that where I plant carrots. I’d get straighter roots.

  3. mangochild Says:

    Raised beds are really a benefit – I started my garden with them for convenience so I could get at things and put in soil rather than go at the unknown in the ground (I’m a newbie), but then read how they can help the garden, both in the season/weather area and in keeping away certain kinds of pests like carrot flies. Your beds look really good, especially how you used the trees for them.

  4. Tessa Says:

    Wow! That’s a lot of work. I too sifted a few beds this spring- I think I’m going to go back to building up the lasagna way- too much work for me! I see a patch of weeds like that and think ‘compost!’ Happy gardening to you and I can’t wait to see all the wonderful thing you’ll be growing in your new beds!

  5. BonnieC Says:

    You will really love the raised beds next spring. If you don’t walk on them at all, but stick to the paths, then next spring you can just fluff them up with a fork and be ready to plant. Mine have been going for 20 years. I add compost and organic mulch every year. By now my somewhat clay soil is as loose as potting soil. Bark mulch lasts the longest on the paths but any thick coarse mulch will keep the weeds to a minimum where you walk. The paths are also a good place for any small stones you take out of the beds. Best wishes for a great gardening year from another short-season gardener!

  6. Farmgirl_dk Says:

    Your raised beds are looking wonderful, Ali. I planted Costata Romanesca for the first time this year – I’m excited!! :-)

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