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.
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!