We have a grand experiment in gardening going on over here at Wildefern Farm. Tomatoes, basil, pak choi, kale, and lettuces are growing in containers — out front in full sun and out back in the kitchen patio garden. We’ve built gardens filled with flowers, gardenia bushes, rose bushes, more lettuces, pak choi, kale, and tomatoes in the front dooryard. This week, we tilled a 42′ x 9′ swatch of land for vine-grown vegetables and wildflowers. And we recently built a raised bed garden which, if you stick with me, I’ll tell you more about…
We had ordered cedar boards for the bed with other lumber we needed for the farm a few weeks ago. However, the cedar never arrived. Because our builder left us with partially used boards, posts, plywood, etc. (at our request), we decided to “make do” with what we had on hand. These boards are heavier than the cedar would have been, but I think that’s going to turn out to be a blessing with all the soil I’ve packed into the bed. Bill even found enough scrap lumber from our picket fences that he recently built, to add a shelf below the bed — perfect for pot storage along with other doodads one uses when gardening. If nothing else, this time in quarantine has allowed us to focus on getting projects done around here!
Once the bed was built and ready for planting, we lined the bottom and sides with landscape fabric which will help contain the soil, but will also let water drip through so that our bed does not become a swimming pool when it rains.
The soil here on the farm is clay, clay and more clay. There are times that it feels like we’re living atop an earthenware platter. However, there is a pile of topsoil that our builder also left behind that, once we dug deep within its core, contains dark brown, semi-rich soil.
That topsoil was the first layer to be added to the bed. Next, I added a layer of compost. Day One on the farm, I started a compost pile. However, it hasn’t had a chance to “cook” much yet, so we had a truckload of compost delivered from a local landscape supply company.
Speaking of compost (and who doesn’t enjoy a little poop talk?), about a month ago, we got a free truckload of horsesh*t (er…manure) from a farm nearby. The owner loaded it into our truck bed with his bucket loader, and I shoveled the pile into my compost heap when we got it home. That rich, black manure makes up the top layer of this new raised bed. And even better, it’s wriggling with earthworms!
Once the soil layers were built, I tucked two tomato plants, three pepper plants, a basil plant, and four or five bulbs of wild chives safely into the bed. I purchased the plants recently from Honey Bee Hills Farm at the Fearrington Farmers’ Market. The grower was filled with pride as she handed me the box of seedlings, telling me she hand-picked each one for me.
These plants started out life on a loving farm, and they are now snuggling their roots in my hand-formed soil. Each morning, the warm North Carolina sun shines down on them until just after midday, when the farmhouse shields them from the blazing afternoon sunshine.
I can’t wait for these plants to bear fruit. The love that was put into them from farmer to me will surely make them taste all the sweeter.
What are you growing this year? Any tips you’d like to share? Any questions you have about gardening? I’m no expert…by far!…but I am enjoying this grand gardening experiment!
If you get a chance, visit these good folks:
Making the Bed — A Raised Bed, that is!
Wow! I can’t get over the neatness of your plantings! So glad you bought the plants from Honey Bee Hills farm. I’ve been getting strawberries from them every week at the Fearrington Farmers’ Market, and they are divine. And the people are lovely too. I can’t wait to see what they look like – maybe next year? Meanwhile, I’m admiring everything y’all are doing out there, and look forward to finding your place one of these days (I promise to be in touch before I explore, and it won’t be for a few months, probably). I’ll have some blackberry lily plants for you when I come. I promised them last year and never got them to you, but they’re coming up everywhere in our garden now, so there will be plenty to spare. Happy gardening! Suzy
Thanks, Suzy! We would love for you to visit once things have calmed down in the world!
I love your raised bed. You both did a beautiful job! So nice to have something at the right height and no bending involved ?
My thoughts exactly, Tara! No bending!!!
I love every last thing on the list of things to remember, especially blowing bubbles. I STILL love that. And every time now, every time I pull the pulley on my clothes line that goes from my back porch to a pine tree across the yard, I will think of you my friend. I love to hang my clothes out and watch them blow in the breeze and smell them as I take them down. Guess I’m just an old fashioned girl
Ahhhhh, yes, the smell of sun-dried laundry!