Irene and Dave here:
On April 25, Transition Town Jericho presented a 90 minute hands-on gardening experience at the Jeri-Hill Retirement Community. TTJ donated the 4’ by 6’ raised garden bed, and UVM Master Gardener Eric Hill assembled it on site for about twenty or so people. Besides the JeriHill residents, a couple families and children who entered TTJ’s Kid’s Garden Contest attended as well and eagerly helped move the dirt!
Eric guided folks through setting up the raised bed garden, sharing the following information:
Why use a raised bed? It drains better, warms the soil faster, and adds two to three weeks more growing time to the season. It decreases weed and pests, and helps build better soil.
Building your raised bed garden box
Steer clear of pressure-treated wood. Pine can work; cedar lasts longer. Synthetics are now available as well. Start with 6” depth; you can always go to 12” later on.Four feet across is ideal so you can reach the middle, and it can be any length.You can place the garden right on sod by putting down a layer of cardboard or several layers newspaper; soak it with water before adding the soil. One-half cubic yards of soil will fit into a 4’x 6’ garden
How to site your raised bed
Find a location that is easily accessible, and make sure there is abundant sunlight (ideally more than eight hours per day) in that location. Also, consider drainage in that spot; not too much water and ideally close to a water source for easy watering during dry times.
Lasagna Gardens are a type of raised bed. You build a lasagna garden by alternating layers of carbon and nitrogen source materials. Carbon comes from newspaper, leaves, and straw and nitrogen comes from manure, grass clippings and compost.
Other Factors to consider:
Frost Dates Last frost (mid to late May) and first frost (mid to late October). Spinach and peas are frost tolerant and can be planted outside before most other crops.
Days to Maturity Counted if you seed directly into the ground.
Start plants indoors Eric recommended this to extend your growing season.
Space requirements for the plants If you plant to densely, leaves can’t dry out and might mildew as well as easier access for pests to spread. Trellising is a good option. Experiment!
Layout Tall plants should go in the back (north side) so they don’t block sun from low-lying plants. Eric recommended planning out your garden on paper for added success.
Compost With access to water, air and heat you can make your own!
Water in the early morning (best) or in the evening (next best). If soil is moist two inches down, you can skip watering, Eric said.
Thanks to Eric for coming out and sharing his expertise for this event!