Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Veg Bed

For the last three weeks I've been working on creating a raised concrete bed to grow my first vegetables after seeing different examples of these types of raised bed on Pinterest. The spot chosen was a central area along the east fence where everything I've planted over the last three years, even the hollyhocks, struggled to grow. A raised bed seemed the ideal solution. Next year I'll paint the blocks a bright color like green or French blue. The temperature hit 100 degrees today and therefore any type of outdoor painting is a no go.
I have to say that took a lot longer than expected. The concrete blocks were very heavy and had to be carried one by one from the garage through the house out the back door to the other side of the yard. And it took more blocks than I anticipated. And the number of bags of garden soil and planting soil to fill what appeared to be a small bed was even more surprising. However, next year I should only have to top off the bed so that expense won't be much at all. Before pouring in the soil I lined the bottom and sides of the two-tier bed with weed block fabric. For the smaller one-tier bed I just lined the bottom with the fabric.
Planted in slots around this bed are three types of mint (orange, chocolate, and Mojito), two strawberries, a sad looking nastursium that doesn't seem able to stand upright, Texas terragon, cilantro, English and Provence Lavender, a grape tomato, and shallot and garlic bulbs [they're planted in the back in the slots that look empty right now]. Lowe's was having a half price sale of herbs and veggies this past weekend for $1.50 so I kind of went overboard with the plants. The center of this bed has zucchini, squash and bell peppers. Marigolds, one of the plants I have always killed, was tucked in to help ward off bugs. The veggies and herbs I have high hopes for. The marigolds I have no doubt I'll kill within three weeks, which is my record for how long I can keep this particular plant alive.
In the lower bed, I have onions, the remainder of the garlic bulbs, and three strawberries planted in the outer slots. The central bed has two types of cucumbers and blue lobelia [for some color until the cucs grow up the trellis].  As a first time veg grower I think I made an amateur mistake. When I described what I was growing my co-worker pointed out that some veggies cross pollinate. So I may have some very onion-y tasting cucumbers before the summer is out. Oh well. Live and learn.
My luck with seeds has improved this year. The chammomile I planted last year came up and is blooming. The cheerful little white flowers look great next to the dill, and little seedlings of the cilantro I planted at the end of March are poking up from the soil too. Yay!
And lastly, the Zebrina Mallow seeds I planted in the fall of 2010 made it through the severe drought of last year thanks to much nursing from me to FINALLY bloom this year. It's not quite as tall as I was expecting but the lovely striped flowers make up for its stature. Now if we could only get more rain. The stage 2 water restrictions are a royal pain. We can only water 1 day a week 1 time. Handwater is allowed anytime but with a garden like mine it takes an hour just to do the backyard. Course, it's rather relaxing to walk around and slowly handwater the beds and inspect everything.

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