Every year we grow a vegetable garden over at my in-laws and it's so rewarding to enjoy the harvest in the cold, winter months. Nothing beats cracking open a jar of tomato soap knowing it was all harvested from our garden. In Ohio, we're in a zone 5.
This year, we opted to try our hands at raised beds instead of sowing our plants in rows. My father-in-law built up several beds out of misc. leftover materials consisting of galvanized metal, 2x4 and 4x4 posts. The beds range in length size but they're all about 3' tall. We laid a weed barrier down before placing our raised bed structures to keep the pesty weeds away and filled the beds with a mixture of swamp soil, raised bed mix and compost. The beds are open on the bottom but the weed barrier is between the bottom and the ground.
I'm hoping in the upcoming years to add gravel between the flower and vegetable garden rows. We initially talked about putting a fence entirely around the vegetable and flower garden to keep animals out. Since we don't have a deer problem (fingers crossed that doesn't change in the years) and bunnies are the only little ones we have to worry about- the raised beds took care of the need for a fence. Planting more flowers and adding some climbing interest to arbours is the goal for the following years.
We're a few months into growing and I can not say enough about these beds! There's a HUGE difference in weeds and caring for the plants is so much better. Because the beds are raised- it's easier to take care of the plants AND we don't have the weeds like we would in the rows. The raised beds are visually pleasing- which is a double win in my book!
In the front bed rows, we have peppers, kale, collards, brussels sprouts, onions, broccoli, lettuce and tomatoes. We don't have water directly in the garden just yet so we're watering the beds with hoses. The plan is to get water to the garden and set up a drip system to reduce the time spent watering everything every night.
In the back center of the garden, my FIL cut large barrels in half to try a different way of growing potatoes. The theory is to start growing at the bottom of the barrel and to keep layering soil as the potato sprout grows- resulting in more potato production. We'll have to report back on the quality later!
Behind the barrels of potatoes, we have more half barrels that hold a couple of watermelon and zucchini plants. I love using zucchini to make spiral "noodles"- zoodles! Both plants are just now getting to the growth that we can see flower starts! Hopefully, it won't be long until we have some produce.
Luckily, we haven't had any deer getting a nibble- phew! Before we had raised beds- the only animal we had to worry about eating the vegetables were our yard bunnies. When I was watering the garden one evening, I found a sweet little nest of baby robins in the grape arbour. Seeing their little bodies in the sunset put the biggest smile on my face.
With the chaos in the world- these little birds and this garden allow me to escape. Seeing those little beaks remind me of the Matthew 6:26 verse and puts reassurance in my heart.
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:26