Making a raised bed garden was something we only decided to do last June. I was still recovering from leg injuries from an accident I had last December and I didn’t think I would be recovered enough to garden but I hate being bored and sitting around with your leg elevated takes the boredom biscuit.
I know my own needs pretty well at this stage of my life and two of the major needs for me are the need to write stories and the need to garden. Those two things keep me (nearly) sane. So I began doing whatever little bit of gardening I could do.
GARDENING MYSELF BACK TO HEALTH
I started planting seeds on the windowsills while sitting in a wheel chair, and progressed to hobbling around on crutches, planting spuds in sacks and vegetables in trays.
The more I did, the more I was able to do and the more I did the more I felt better, mentally and physically. In fact I honestly think I gardened myself back to walking.
The fact that I could get around easier encouraged me to go for the raised beds. I am really glad we did as it is the only place in our 1.4 acres of rocky wilderness where I can manage to get around at the moment and so the raised bed garden has been really productive as well as pretty.
We had hoped for a wildflower meadow and most of our effort and garden budget went into that but apart from a few little stragglers the meadow didn’t grow
It seemed like we just replaced one set of weeds with another so the raised bed garden became our place to be when the weather was good. As for the rest of the garden – I find I am accidentally applying one of the permaculture principles – observation.
The area we chose to place our raised bed garden was already slightly raised and being close to the back of the house and south-facing it seemed ideal.
Later, we put a little lean-to greenhouse and a small shed there as well. I think of this whole area as the engine of the garden. It is so close to everything and is a great place to work – especially if the sun pays a visit.
We also had to take into consideration the fact that I wasn’t really able to get around the rest of the garden this year, as the ground is so uneven. Uneven/rocky ground is still a big problem for me to walk on.
SAFETY IN THE RAISED BED GARDEN
The raised bed garden has rails around it for a bit of safety. This also gives the area a nice, cosy, enclosed feel. Once the raised beds were installed we added a mix of soil, compost and organic food. Now, this is one way of doing it and it worked fine as I wanted to grow vegetables to eat this year and we got plenty!
However, there are many different ways to make vegetable beds besides raised beds and I am very interested in applying some of the permaculture/no dig methods to my garden.
At the moment I am preparing an area by mulching with cardboard, lots of seaweed, wood ash, grass clippings, tea bags and vegetable waste etc. from the house. Colette O’Neill does this very successfully in her beautiful Bealtaine gardens.
Of course, preparing beds like this takes a while. The stuff needs time to decompose. Don’t forget we’re on worm-time and they need a bit of wriggle room, so these vegetable beds won’t be ready until spring but it is a really easy, really cheap (two words I like – easy and cheap) method of preparing vegetable or flower beds, or both, as I like to do.
This time of year is a great time to prepare some beds and I am hoping by getting started now they will be ready for spring planting. In the meantime the raised bed garden is blooming.
FLOWERS AND VEGETABLES – HAPPY TOGETHER
It’s worth noting that the beds where I mixed flowers and vegetables together were the happiest and most productive. I am currently reading and learning a bit more about permaculture. Did I accidentally create a plant guild?
Best of luck with your gardening – whether it’s in pots or out in the ground it’s all good. If you found gardening improved your health I’d love to hear from you. Any other comments are very welcome too!