The Root

One gardener’s quest to get to the bottom of it all.

The Filled Raised Bed April 16, 2008

Here it is, a raised bed filled with a rich, reddish mixture of peat, composts, and vermiculite.

Step 1: Finding the best sun exposure — and how some seeds were lost
I did, in fact, move the bed forward towards the lawn, covering a couple dozen poorly-placed seeds of radishes and spinach, but not before scrabbling on the ground to save what sprouts I could–something like six spinach and half as many radishes opening just below the surface, which I relocated to the side. Don’t know how they’ll handle such an abrupt change. Poor foster kids!

Step 2: Massaging the mix to life
I emptied bags and one wheelbarrow’s worth of homemade compost into the frame. Initially, I went at mixing it with a pitchfork, feeling something like a cook in the night kitchen. But, frankly, it was easier on my back to crouch down and massage the stuff together with my gloved mits. And then I started going through it with a fine-toothed comb. Man, I was picking out offensively large twigs! I was pinching dehydrated cowpats into crumbs!

All told, it took a couple hours. I wouldn’t recommend building and filling more than one on a day. The result is a source of great satisfaction. I like to think of pigs getting down and reveling in it.

Step 3: Watering; Letting the soil warm
For these parts, this is an early start: The last frost date isn’t until Memorial Day. Most of my seedlings won’t travel beyond these four walls for another several weeks. But I have a way to warm the soil and the makings of a cold frame! I watered it, not really sure why (maybe it’ll attract earthworms?), and covered the whole shebang with garbage bags. Then I anchored them down under window panes, which will become a cold frame. Anything to extend the season!

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