Healthier diets! Fresh tomatoes! Less stress! Better life! There are so many benefits of gardening, so we’re building raised garden beds for growing vegetables this summer.
There is a ridiculous amount of research on why gardening is good for you and here’s some of it. A study conducted in the Netherlands showed that gardening can reduce the level of the stress hormone cortisol in your blood. And it can put you in a better mood.
So we’re going to lower our stress levels…right after we raise them with all these decisions about these garden beds. Seems like a simple project, but all the options are stacking up.
We’ve only had small patio containers of tomatoes in the past, which were not so successful, so we are going to let the wealth of knowledge on the internet guide us.
Location, location, location. Where should we put these beds? Our first option was an area that gets really intense full sun on a steep slope, but we’re going to go with a spot with slightly less sun but one that is much flatter. Selecting this spot will cut down on construction time and may even help with irrigation needs.
Building material. This is going to be a wood project. The internet tells me that corrugated steel, bricks and stone can also be used, but we’re going with wood. Pressure-treated wood, railroad ties and old utility poles are not good options, because chemicals from them can leach into your roots and crops. Gross.
We thought we’d be using cedar, which is a popular option, but the guy at the lumber yard suggested spruce. It’s a whole lot cheaper, so that sounds good to me.
I think Growing North’s raised beds are are gorgeous.
— Growing North (@growingnorth) March 22, 2016
Size and shape. I don’t want to start with an overwhelming space, but every time I pick up the seed catalog, I circle another crop. Oops. I’m hungry.
Anyway, I’m starting out the design using square foot gardening methods. At first I thought we would have a big c-shaped bed, but now it seems that rectangular-shaped beds are the best idea. Easy access to all areas.
Tell me, internet, when you say that some crops shouldn’t be grown together (tomatoes and cauliflower, for example), how far away do these plants need to be from each other? Opposite sides of an 8 foot bed ok? Or do they need to be in separate beds? Main question: two long beds or three medium-length beds?
Soil. Soil is tricky. In-ground garden beds are a lot of work around here because our soil is heavy clay and a mess. We’ve had topsoil and mulch delivered, but we’re going to need to find some nice compost for this project. Looking for a really amazing supplier for soil.
Crops. I started looking at a mail order catalog for seeds. I made my selections based on space and what kind of vegetables we want, but then I looked at the prices and realized it’s a lot cheaper to buy them at a garden center or home improvement store. They aren’t exactly the varieties I was looking for, but we’ll give them a try.
We have happy tomato, green pepper and romanesco seeds planted and sprouted. I planted lettuce and spinach seeds last night. I’ll be starting cucumber, squash and corn in the next month. And an onion in my pantry has sprouted, so I’ll fit that in somewhere. Another post on seed starting coming soon.
I’m planning to plant towards the end of May, so lots of decisions to be made and work to be done before then. I love trolling around Instagram this time of year to see the baby sprouts people are nurturing. Check out #seedstarting. So great. Less stress for everyone!