Hello Strangers! I am currently recovering from cholecystectomy, which, I am not gonna lie, was my scariest experience yet. So far so good. At least, I woke up. The doctor and nurses made my experience as comfortable as possible and I was sent home the next day. Still, looks like I will be out of commission for at least a month before I can do any more gardening work. It makes me sad, but such is life.
However, today I want to share with you one of the projects that I managed to complete to some level already. I built three new raised beds this year! I sourced all of the materials locally or remotely with only a couple of things that needed picking up in person with minimal contact. I was quite lucky with the quality of all my materials as well. Here is how it all came together!
Each box is 1 meter wide, 2 meters long, and 30 centimeters tall. Each plank is 4.7 centimeters wide. I felt it was ideal as I can easily reach into the box and do weeding or tending the plants while sitting on the edge of the box. They are untreated wood as I don’t want to risk any chemicals leaching into my soil or plants.
All three boxes found their home in the big field where they will have full sun all day long. The vertical planks provide extra stability. My giant collection of cardboard boxes came in handy. I stripped them of all plastic and placed them at the bottom of each box on top of the grass. I did not dig the grass out, because some gardeners say it would only encourage more growth, so instead, I am trying the smothering technique.
When it comes to filling the boxes, there are many methods to do it. I decided to not fill mine with just soil but used old tree branches and old plant material right at the bottom. Followed by leaf mulch. These will break down over time and will become part of the soil.
“Hi, we were wondering what is this peat moss or something else? It is so dark!” Two elderly ladies stopped by as I was working away by my new beds. Turns out they saw my pile of black soil from a distance and came to investigate. Good soil is popular in the village full of hobby gardeners. It was lovely to speak to them too and share some tips about gardening. I hope the soil will perform as well as it looks. It is processed, meaning most of the rocks and plant roots are removed from it, so it was easy to add a big layer of it on top of the leaf mulch in each box.
Water retention is essential in the raised beds since they can dry out quite quickly. So my next layer in my soil build was neutralized peat moss. Peat moss tends to soak up moisture and water like a sponge. This should help my beds stay moist longer and keep my plants happy.
Next layer - horse manure. Extra nutrients to the soil, even though the soil itself appears to be rich. I don’t think there is too much when it comes to the richness of the soil.
Last, but not least, some fine pinewood mulch. This should also help with water retention and the arability of the soil in the beds. Once that was added, I did a good mixing of all the layers from the soil level up. I feel pretty good about it. I hope my plants will like this mixture I’ve made for them.
Finally, I added some thicker mulch outside the edges of each box, to keep the grass from trying to find its way in. I might add another layer of it later.
The final result! ^^ I can’t put in words how happy these made me!
And I even managed to sow some seeds in them! Bunch of different salad leaves, spinach, kale, basil, chamomile, radishes, arugula, asparagu, and parsley! I might add more herbs and flowers in the boxes as they progress.
The new gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes!
The sad news was that my lavender plants are no longer. My theory is that their time was up, the winter colds were harsher this year, and also the soil and the location were not ideal for them. They served well and I still have the dried flowers. I thanked each plant on their way to the composting pile. I am not sure if I will manage to plant new plants this year. I will surely miss them.
I planted rhubarbs in their place.
My tiny garden is having a transformation from the herb garden to the flower garden. It is hard to manage all the snails trying to eat all my leafy greens that usually grew here. Plus, I am still not convinced about the nearby pollution in this area. So the change was needed.
The greenhouse is ready for seedlings! I sowed cabbages here while tomato seedlings are not ready to move in.
Strawberry beds. Here you can see how having boxes potentially would have kept the grass away. It is so sneaky. I constantly need to adjust the ends of these beds or the grass takes over rather quickly.
And here are my seedlings I am growing indoors for now. Some leeks, a variety of tomatoes, and bell peppers! ^^ Every day they get stronger and stronger. A couple of weeks, and they will be ready for the greenhouse or at least transplanting in bigger containers.
It was a bummer to have surgery at the time of the growing season beginning, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. I will make sure to heal up properly before doing anything that requires physical work even if it means I will have a late start for some things in my garden. At the same time, I am happy I will have at least the ingredients for salads soon.
How are your gardening projects so far?
Song of the day: Agust D - Moonlight