Getting my hands in the dirt. Turning, digging, hoeing, planting, pruning . . . something about this type of physical labor quiets my crazy mind.
A few years back, my friends started joining CSAs--Community Supported Agriculture projects wherein you buy a "share" of a local farm and they provide you with weekly deliveries of produce throughout the season. These CSAs are great options for us city-dwellers. You get to know your farmer and their practices and you usually get a good variety of vegetables throughout the season.
But when I sat down and crunched the numbers--remember the "cheap" part of the tagline--and took into consideration that I love gardening anyway, I figured out that I could take the cost of one year of a CSA share, invest it into my inner-city backyard, and end up with years and years of vegetables at a fraction of the cost that my friends were spending on CSAs every year.
So I built my own raised vegetable beds. I used simple redwood 4 ft. fencing material and redwood 2" x 2" stakes to build 6, 4' X 4' raised beds in my backyard. The beds are two pieces of fence tall. Each corner steak is 8 inches longer than the box so that pounding them into the ground would help anchor the bed and keep the top from bowing out once filled with soil. I used galvanized fence screws to screw the fence pieces into the corner stakes. Screws instead of nails so that if one broke or rotted in a few years, I could replace them where they sit without pulling the whole thing out of the ground.
The initial investment was roughly $300.00 and that includes the material to fill them. Not long after I built these, a similar snap-together plastic product was being sold at area home stores for $100 per 4' X 4' bed. Nothing, I mean NOTHING, is as satisfying to me as 1) building it myself, and 2) building it for far less money out of a natural product.
Every year I add a little something to each bed. Some years it's compost, some years a little manure, some years more rich soil, or peat. And then I rotate crops and try new things from year to year. These beds don't give me an enormous amount of space so it's a little hard to do things that crawl, like squashes, melons, pumpkins. but I can get a surprising amount of yield out of my little plots.
Then, in addition to the regular season, I bought 2 portable greenhouses online so that I can extend the growing season. This year, I probably could have put the greenhouses out a month ago. We've hardly even had anything that resembled a real winter in Ohio this year.
Today's project. Get 2 of the 6 beds prepared for the greenhouses and plant some cold weather crops.
4 kinds of lettuce
a variety of radishes
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