Boots on the Ground

Rain, mud and cold. Heat, take the fleece off. Pouring rain–too cold–fleece/hat back on,  and you’re wondering why you even bothered. What ever you do, keep those boots on your feet, and off your garden beds.

I concentrate on work that keeps my boots at the periphery of my cultivated beds, may it be roses or Swiss Chard. You want your soil to be as fluffy/aerated as possible. Roots grow easier, drainage improves and there’s plenty of oxygen to keep organisms in the soil thriving making weeding a much easier chore. If you walk on water saturated soil, which has a lot of clay in our region, you will compress the particles and they will not spring back, depriving the soil of oxygen.

Raised beds are a great addition to our Portland gardens, and a very good project for the entire family regardless of weather conditions.

Use non-treated wood, but don’t worry so much about what kind. Yes, cedar will last longer, but it is expensive while the much cheaper knotted pine boards last four years. I like mine to be 5′x10′x2′(tall). That way I can reach all my plants and I don’t have to walk too far to get around. Make sure you leave a path wide enough between beds so a wheelbarrow can go through.

Fill the inside with what you have on hand first. Leaves, straw, compost, old potting soil etc. For the rest I use 4 in1 mix: yard debris compost/steer manure/sand/top soil/. For the path I use quarter-ten gravel or straw or even recycled jute coffee bags you can find at coffee roasting businesses for cheap or free.

I buy all my soil/compost/rock/gravel and firewood at Mt Scott Fuel Co. on Foster and 69th. They are close and deliver on time (you can also pick up). They are a 4th generation small business and the lab test results on their products reliably come back clean of herbicides and other unwanted chems!

See you out back…

Tip of the day: Go to recycling centers for used wood boards. Keep an eye on your street, maybe a neighbor is replacing her fence. Use Fall leaves in your raised beds as well as old straw from Halloween displays.