Friday, October 4, 2013

Low cost garden beds

There are many ways to build garden beds and we are attempting a number of them here at Gidget's Garden. We have an enormous playground in which to experiment and I've decided to go for it with a no fear gardening approach. I already have the basics down and the first basic is that you have to feed the soil if you want to be successful.

We are just getting started here so we're focused on compost and creating enough garden beds to grow the produce we need. Sheet compost, otherwise known as lasagna gardening gives you an option for composting while you create a good garden bed. Two birds, one stone.  
Ron says, "I might like lasagna."
This is a slow method for composting so we are starting this bed now to plant in the spring. Most people do this right on top of the soil by placing cardboard or sheets of newspaper down to block weeds and then just start layering lawn clippings, garden leaves, manure and other compost worthy materials in 1 inch layers to about 12 inches tall.  

I wanted this bed to be about ground level when it's done so we dug the area out to about 8 inches deep.

We will smother the surrounding area with composted leaf mulch and wood chips to keep the weeds down.
We have a big pile of soil mix left over from what we got from Austin Wood Recycling for our raised beds so we are using it in as many projects as possible right now.
Big pile of left over dirt
There is a gas line the runs through the property and I wanted a visual marker to give me an idea of where it runs so we created a berm with the dirt we dug out of the lasagna bed. We added some of the extra garden soil to it too. The berm is in front of the gas line, not on top of it.

The berm that I've named Hermione Hill
I wanted plants to put in the berm so I could plant and mulch it to help hold it together and keep the weeds down. My day got really sad at this point because in my haste to go get flowers, I forgot to look for the kittens and I ran one of them over.
This is Hermione with her best buddy Willy Nelson
I didn't realize what happened until after we got back with the plants and it was a devastating discovery. Farmer D was so incredible and he took care of picking her up. We decided to bury her under some trees in the back yard. 
Harry attended the services.
I was feeling and still do feel terrible about killing our adorable kitten but I went ahead and planted the flowers after the burial. We went with geraniums and lavender with some small snap dragons for color. The snapdragons are starting to bloom now. This will be a weed nightmare if we don't mulch it heavily.
We will use composted leaf mulch on top of cardboard around this and up the sides to keep weeds down.
Now, back to our lasagna bed. I just went ahead and added materials I have on hand. 
I started with some branches that I hope will become spongy and help retain water

I added our kitchen scraps and then I added some of our soil and put cardboard on top.

Then I added more of that manure rich soil and then some leaves that were handy.
I watered this all down and I will continue to layer things like grass clippings, leaves and manure over the fall and then wait until spring before planting. 

Gidget thinks I better get to work on mulch, and she's right!