If you have been following along with social media stories, you know that we have been working so hard on our vegetable garden area. I got you all caught up in a few posts. If you missed them, make sure to check them out: The Beginning of our Raised Beds, Our Picket Fence around the Garden, and Our Steps to our Vegetable Garden. You can use a lot of different things, but today, I wanted to share what we used to fill our raised beds.
First off, it has been SO HOT here in Ohio. I know that 85 degrees doesn’t seem hot to some people, but it is to us. Here in Ohio, 85 degrees with high humidity is miserable. I was in Los Angeles for a training when I was younger. The girl who taught the class said, “It’s supposed to be 95 degrees here today so it’s going to be dreadful.” I walked outside and thought it felt really good. There definitely is a difference when you are talking dry heat vs humidity. We have been working outside in these temps for days and let’s just say the sweat runs in places that I didn’t know a person sweat. It pours down my back. And, if I don’t continually drink water, I start to feel sick to my stomach. Needless to say, we take lots of breaks during the hottest parts of the days.
Personally, I think buying dirt is ridiculous. Ha! It’s something that I find strange but it’s a must if you don’t have access to it on your land. We have nothing but clay dirt here because it was always a field. So we needed to purchase dirt in order to fill our raised garden beds. Well, it can be expensive if you need a lot. So we had to become clever with filling the bottoms of our raised vegetable containers. Doing this will not only fill the space for free, but everything will decompose throughout the years and make wonderful soil.
So here is what we used.
We had 10 raised containers to fill this year. And will probably have a few more to fill in the future since we have space left. And since we have an entire woods here with a huge wood pile, we used that as our base. Obviously, the taller the raised beds, the more wood we put in the bottom. The taller ones got a few layers.
We had a ton of cardboard that was in the recycling pile. So we added that to some of the beds on top of the wood. I didn’t snap a pic of that. I have done this in the past and noticed that cardboard holds the moisture so your beds stay nice and cool.
This scoop of “stuff” is a lot of things together. We have a huge pile in the back of our property where we burn leaves, large pieces of wood that we don’t want to split, twigs, etc. It’s really good to layer all of that stuff in your raised beds as it will break down even more. There were, of course, ashes from burning which will also be good.
This is the good stuff that you put on top for your vegetables plants and seeds. The expensive stuff… Ha! We have about 8-12″ of the good stuff on top of all of the layers.
I decided to try something in our raised garden beds that I have used in the past several times…. but in our regular garden. It is called the Back to Eden Garden Method which I did at the rental. I don’t follow that method to a T but we sort of make up our own method. And, if it works in a regular bed, I don’t know why it wouldn’t work in raised beds.
Once the vegetables were planted, I made sure to water each plant really well. Along with making sure all of the dirt was very damp. We covered the dirt between each plant with newspaper and then topped it all with wood chips, making sure to water each layer between. We ended up buying a few bags of wood chips because we don’t have any here currently. And to be honest, we were so tired that carrying a few bags into the garden area sounded a little easier than unloading a truck of them by hand.
This method does a few things. It is great for weed control. And, the plant roots stay very cool and hydrated. This method worked SO WELL at our old house that we watered our garden MAYBE three times the entire summer. But… we did have our normal rainfall that year which was maybe once a week. Also… the newspaper and wood chips decompose adding a lot of goodness to your soil. We had the best dirt in that garden that next summer.
A lot of times, the newspapers are decomposed already and some of the chips as well. So, depending on what the chips look like, we will either layer newspaper over them again, and start fresh. Or push the chips aside and plant as normal. It all depends on how well it all holds up over winter. We will see.
I am sharing every day over on social media stories the status of my watering. Because I am genuinely curious as to how often I will need to water using this method. I do know that it has now been two days since I watered and as of last night, they were till wet.
Stay tuned as I will update you here in our garden posts regularly.
Have you ever used this method? And, what do you think about it? To be honest, I not only love it for the convenience of less watering and weeding, but it looks pretty, too.