Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Building Raised Beds

I'm so excited! I just had two new raised beds built to add to the four existing beds in my garden. I now have a compound! Each bed is constructed of cinder block with a water connection built into the bed. The beds are then faced with stone.

Here in the Hill Country of South Texas where I live and garden, there is virtually no soil; we sit on a hill of rock. Therefore, raised beds are the only way to go. It is a bit of work getting started, but there is no way to effectively garden (here) without raised beds.

After the raised bed is constructed, I simply connect a soaker hose to the water line and the beds are timed to my sprinkler system. Each bed gets watered for 30 minutes every morning. Since the water soaks directly into the ground, it is immediately available to the plants' roots and there is no waste and virtually no evaporation. Each bed operates independently so if I am not using one (or more ) of the beds, I simply cap off the water line.

Next comes the soil, which is the most important ingredient in gardening. I use a garden mix from a local landscape company: The company is Gardenville and the soil mix I use is their premium garden blend. It is made from composted top soil which is rich in iron, phosphorus and nitrogen, all things necessary for good plant growth.

The next essential, but often overlooked, ingredient is compost. Adding organic matter (which is what compost is) is the key to successful gardening in South Texas. I add organic matter to each of my beds at the turn of every gardening season...without fail.

For each of my beds (which are 9' x 5') I use four bags of Ladybug Soil Revilatizer. The stuff is amazing! It is a rich blend of hummus and manure composts (and NO BioSolids...{sewer sludge}) which provide a wide variety of beneficial fungal and bacterial microorganisms. I just till each bag into the soil until it is thoroughly incorporated, rake the bed level and I'm now ready to plant.