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Mounded-earth Raised Beds (and Wheelbarrow Advice)

March 15th, 2009 · 8 Comments ·

When we finished digging up the yard for more vegetable garden space, I looked around me and started to cry.  My yard used to be pretty, with a perfectly reasonable-sized bed for growing food, and now it’s an expanse of mud.   When my friend Karen called and I told her about my little garden seizure, she said, “You have to crack eggs to make a quiche.”  Now the mud garden is taking shape, and my mood has brightened.

The Mud Quiche.  I'm hoping that once the beds are planted I'll be able to shake the morbid feeling that our yard looks like it's full of freshly-dug graves!

Part of the Mud Quiche. I'm hoping that once the beds are planted I'll be able to shake the morbid feeling that our yard looks like it's full of freshly-dug graves!

We decided that instead of constructing wooden raised beds, we would take the mounded soil route suggested by Northwest garden doyen Steve Solomon (author of the bible, Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades).  In the moist Pacific Northwest, wood-rimmed beds provide a perfect harbor for slugs, snails, and earwigs.  Mounded beds are less effort, less money, and offer more flexibility.  They also provide more planting space, since the soil around the edges is accessible.  For mounded beds, Seattle Tilth recommends heaping composted soil high–12 -18″ to allow for settling.  Solomon suggests spreading good soil six inches or so beneath the surface, then heaping it only a few inches above ground to help prevent runoff.  We took a middle road, digging down several inches, and then building the beds up about six inches above the surface of the garden path.  This is, like most aspects of gardening, an experiment!

My cute dad, Jerry, helped me work on the raised beds.  Working with my dad, I still feel like a little girl.  Here's his contractor's wheelbarrow alongside my beloved little orange one.  He said, "Make sure you point the wheelbarrow the way you want to go before you fill it up."  Durned if the thing wasn't pointed the wrong way every single time I went to move it.

My cute dad, Jerry, helped me work on the raised beds. Working with my dad, I still feel like a little girl. Here's his contractor's wheelbarrow alongside my beloved little orange one. He said, "Make sure you point the wheelbarrow the way you want to go before you fill it up." Durned if the thing wasn't pointed the wrong way every single time I went to move it.

garden

8 Comments so far ↓

  • David Ruggiero

    That soil looks awfully familiar… :)

  • Maureen

    This is very inspiring! We have been debating raised bed versus mounded. The stumbling block for me is the daunting task of removing gravel from the space where we want to plant. Any ideas for taming the mud in the spaces between the beds? Maybe that’s where I’ll push the gravel!

  • lyanda

    We’re going to have one of the local arborists deliver chipped wood to use for paths between beds. They’ll do this for free, and you can nicely ask them to come on a day they’ve lopped a pretty, fragrant cedar. Some will only deliver a full load (8 yards! Too much…), but some will do a half. Just don’t use it for mulch around trees and plants–too acidic. Wood-chipper refuse is also nice in a chicken yard–it cuts down on mud, and creates a layer between the mulch and the soil which is full of bugs and worms–great nutrition for the chickies, and keeps them happy scratching.

  • Lauren

    If you get too many cedar wood chips and need a friendly neighbor recipient of the leftovers, you have my number :)

  • tom

    Cedar chips smell nice but Alder chips grow mushrooms in the fall!

  • Amy B

    I laugh every time I come across the word earwig.

  • ShR

    this is the same method my family and I have used for almost 30 years. the previous year’s walkways get a layer of compost & manure in the fall, and the following year the whole bed is flipped over into the walkway–covering the compost & maure. repeat each year. Tomatoes 12 feet tall are NOT uncommon… Peas & beans taller than corn plants… serious stuff! without expensive chemical fertilizer & weed control!

  • Denise

    So happy to find your blog! I live south of Tacoma and I am in the middle of putting in an edible garden in my front yard, 15 x 30 feet. Just debating about whether to do mounded raised beds or wood framed ones — I have my answer now! Thanks!
    Love your chickens too, we have five 2-month-old ones. T. Rex (plymouth barred rock named by my son), Cleopatra – (called Cleopatrick by my 4 yo who often carries her around, an Ameraucana), and Mrs. Medlock, Mary, and Martha (2 Rhode Island Reds and a red Sexlink).

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