Back in March, our friends Chris, Patrick and Claire helped us construct raised beds on the side of our house. Our neighborhood is full of mature trees, which makes it both beautiful and shady. The only place that gets consistent sunlight is the south side of the house. When we moved in, that area was planted with bushes that really didn’t do anything for me. It’s not that they were terribly ugly, but they were not adding anything to the space. We decided to make the investment in raised beds because 1) we wanted them, 2) they are a productive use of the area, and 3) it would provide a place to grow greens in the spring and overwintering crops like garlic that we can’t do at the big garden because of the rules.
Chris runs GrowMemphis and knows a whole heck of a lot about raised bed gardening. (Side note–he and Claire are making their dream of being small farmers a reality later this year when they take over his family’s farmland. I’ll miss them being down the street, but it is amazing to watch them make their farm a reality.) Claire and Patrick know a lot about gardening too and were willing to give up a Saturday afternoon to help us construct the beds with nothing but spaghetti and beer for payment. We have fantastic people in our lives.
The actual construction was on the guys because we used railroad ties (courtesy of Bob’s Tie Yard, seriously), which are heavy. They had to cut some of the ties in half to make the ends. The stacked ties are reinforced on the sides with rebar to keep them in place. One bed is tall and comes up to my waist. The other one is only one tie high and is the one that is planted with asparagus. Two weeks later, Patrick and Chris came back over and helped us get the manure and soil in place. Chris knows some horse owners in the Bartlett area who are happy to have someone take manure off of their hands. We put a layer down in the tall bed to act as fertilizer. The rest of the square footage was filled with cotton burr compost.
This spring, we had arugula, spinach, two types of lettuce, beets, radishes, carrots, swiss chard and peas in the tall bed. The peas straight up died, and only half of the radishes made actual bulbs. The carrots and beets are still in the ground with plans to pull them up this weekend. The arugula and spinach were delicious additions to our salads for the past month. The plants bolted so I planted a tomatillo and black cherry tomato plant in their place. The swiss chard is quite tasty, and we will be eating our second harvest of it for dinner tomorrow night. Once I pull up the carrots and beets, I will plant two more tomato plants and basil in their place. Next fall/spring, I’m definitely going to stick with growing greens and lettuces in that bed.