Spring Garden — Putting in the Garden

Raised BedI love fresh fruits and vegetables so putting in a garden every spring and nurturing my plants through the hot, hot summers is a not a chore I put up with, but a real pleasure.  Since I am a renter, I can’t tear up the yard and put in a big garden.  I don’t really need one, though.  I need just enough for my needs and a few extras to share with friends.  Last summer I put in a raised bed garden I built using cinder blocks.  I moved hundreds of pounds of blocks and even more hundreds of pounds of compost and top soil.  When I was finished and the plants were all in place, I had overwhelming feelings of both exhaustion and accomplishment.

Even if you have a small yard, putting in a raised bed garden is a great option if you want to have fresh fruits and vegetables.

Here’s what you need:

Cinder blocks – (you decide how big your garden is, so you decide how many you need. The blocks are 16x8x6. I used 22.)
Compost and top soil – as much as you need – I got mine free through an online forum. I just had to pick it up.
Cardboard boxes—enough for the bottom of your bed.
A bag or two of vermiculite
Plants or seeds – What’s your fancy?

Directions: If you want to build a raised bed, it’s easy.  Here is what I did.  I bought 22 large cinder blocks from a chain home improvement store.  It took two trips since I don’t have a truck, but I got them all home.  Wear gloves when moving the blocks; they are rough on hands!  Then I tore up the grass in an area about the size of my prospective garden–about 10×4.  I put the bricks in place and then really got to work.  Before I added the compost and dirt, I put opened cardboard boxes on the bottom of the bed to help keep weeds and grass from popping up.  Then I added about 300 pounds of compost and another 500 of top soil.  I threw in a couple of bags of vermiculite as well for drainage.  It was hot and dirty work, but well worth it as my vegetables started to mature.

Since I did all the hard work last year, it didn’t take long to get my garden in shape last week.  I planted some seeds, but stopped at the garden center and bought a few plants as well.  You can see I planted tomatoes, lettuce, leeks, chives, zucchini, garlic, and peas.  In the holes of the cinder blocks, I put strawberries on one side.  By putting them in the holes, I hope to keep the creepers from getting out of control.  Then around the other three sides I put marigolds for color and as mosquito control.  As the lettuce and peas finish up, I’ll add a few other things.  And there are those empty cinder block holes that need filling…

Happy gardening!  You will definitely enjoy the fruits and vegetables of your labor!

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