Saturday, January 16, 2010

Raised beds and woodstoves

My son AJ and I were building another raised bed in our garden today. Now is the time of year to do that sort of thing, not in the Spring when the mad rush to get things in the ground pushes all thoughts of garden improvement to the back burner. Why raised beds? There are many good reasons for them: your soil warms up quicker in the Spring, allowing for earlier planting, by keeping the beds to a manageable size( 3'wide x8' long is ideal) you are able to reach all parts of the bed, and can avoid walking all over the bed, compacting the soil. If you are planting tomatoes( and who wouldn't?!) you can bury them deep(as you should) with a minimum of effort.You can also keep your plants closer together, allowing for a better yield in a smaller area.The beds can be constructed of almost any material capable of holding in your soil, from stones to concrete blocks, to even railroad ties.The only material I frown on is treated lumber, as the chemical treatment can leach into the soil- not good for you, the plants, or those necessary soil workers, the earthworm. The beds can be anywhere from 6-12" tall. Fill them with a good mix of soil and compost (remember your compost pile) and plant and enjoy. . . Is there anything as good as the heat coming from a woodstove or insert? I don't think so. To borrow a little from the Beatles:" Happiness is a warm . . . .stove." Another benefit is all that good ash that is left after the fire. Sprinkle a little of the ash on your garden, around your trees and shrubs, and in your flowerbeds, and enjoy the benefits of free fertilizer as you recycle and use all your resources. Doesn't feel bad to give the utility companies a little kick in the shorts either, does it?

1 comment:

don said...

I've heard that the creosote in old railroad ties can leach out and mess up the soil. Any truth to that?

I burn wood and use my ashes much like I would lime, or just a bit more sparingly. You'll get a lot of micronutrients that lime doesn't have.

You didn't mention a soil test but it's a really good idea to know exactly what the soil needs.