raised beds

Update: Niki’s new raised beds

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A few weeks ago, Savvy Gardening’s Tara Nolan launched her first book, Raised Bed Revolution, and for me, the timing was perfect.  With photography for my next book scheduled for this spring/summer/fall, I had already decided to revamp my own vegetable garden. (If you missed my post with details on the new design and site prep, read about my ‘Big Dig’ here.) I knew I wanted raised beds and was able to adopt many of Tara’s ideas and suggestions into my brand new kitchen garden.

We did however, hit a snag. The lumber arrived, and just as we were ready to start building the raised beds, my husbands back gave out. For weeks. The poor guy was stuck on the couch and we therefore needed to go to plan B. We brought back the contractor who had prepped the site, and it took just two days for his team to build, arrange, and fill the raised beds. They also installed the new posts for our electric deer fence. We were over-budget, but back in business!

Before - the site was prepped and ready to go!

Before – the site was prepped and ready to go!

Gardening in my raised beds:

It’s been just over three weeks since construction was finished and I’ve been slowing planting up the twenty raised beds. Sweet peas were the first seeds to be planted – they’re my favourite flower and will offer us months of fragrant blooms. We then started sowing seeds for edible peas, as well as salad greens, and root crops. Plus, the hundreds of seedlings that I had started indoors under my grow lights were hardened off and plugged into the beds.

raised beds

After – the raised beds are slowing being filled as the spring weather turns to summer.

I’ve also been busy building vertical elements; four trellises, two A-frame trellises, cucumber trellises, three tunnels and 24 tomato stakes. To keep weeds down and boots clean, the pathways have been lined in cardboard and mulched with shredded bark.

Related post: 4 reasons to plant new-to-you edibles

raised bed vegetable garden 2

In mid May, I planted tidy blocks of Summerfest komatsuna, Fun Jen, Minutina, and ‘Speckles’ lettuce in this 4 by 8 foot raised bed.

Below, the same bed just three weeks later. Using my grow lights to start these seeds indoors gave me a huge six week head start on the growing season.

Three weeks later!

The same bed three weeks later! The Summerfest komatsuna (at the back) is over a foot tall and the frilly, bright green heads of Fun Jen have been giving us daily salads.

As for the structures, the two smaller tunnels will support six varieties of pole beans, while the widest tunnel will provide vertical space for various Asian and Indian cucumbers.

raised beds

The pole beans are now six-inches tall and will soon begin climbing this mesh tunnel.

Have you made any updates or changes to your vegetable garden for the season? 







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7 Responses to Update: Niki’s new raised beds

  1. Ron Mitchell says:

    Good God……I’m tired just looking at the work involved! I bet you are not skimping as this is The Garden of Your Dreams. And I bet you have had plenty of ideas for some years that you can now put in place. Great job! I hope your husbands back is soon back to top form.

  2. Mark Robinson says:

    Looks awesome! I’m on my fourth year of no-till, intensive raised bed vegetable gardening, and I don’t think I want to go back to the way I did it before. It just makes too much sense this way.

    • Niki Jabbour says:

      Thanks Mark!! I have to say that this has been an outstanding garden year for me with these new raised beds.. some of the new soil I had to bring in was definitely not as fertile as my ‘old’ soil that we saved.. I’ll be going in to high gear with cover crops to get the new soil up to par! 🙂 – Niki

    • Mark says:

      Absolutely, Nikki! It has been a very productive year for gardening in New England as well despite the drought. I find it hard to believe that I was able to pick enough peppers to can 22 pints of peppers off of 12 plants in 12 square feet! I know it’s not sustainable; we need rain. Hopefully we get a lot of “poor man’s fertilizer” this winter (aka: snow).

    • Niki Jabbour says:

      You’re so right Mark!! The ground IS. SO. DRY!! It’s been a challenge to get my fall crops established with such dry soil. I’ve got to go pick more peppers today – night temps are getting very cold! 🙂

  3. Beverly Kucheran says:

    Hi Niki, just bought a 1/2 acre to garden outside winnipeg. Just bought your book but i am wondering , are your raised beds built with 2- 2×6s or 2x8s.?i plan on planting pretty much same as you have. Thank you and consider me part of your team.
    Bev

    • Niki Jabbour says:

      Hi Bev.. thanks for your comments!! 🙂 Much appreciated.. A new space is so exciting for you! My raised beds are 4 by 8 and 4 by 10 feet.. The wood is 8 inches wide, so each bed is 16 inches tall. Perfect for sitting. My design is in this post – http://savvygardening.com/vegetable-garden-design/ – Feel free to copy! 🙂 It’s a big space, but I spend less than an hour per week working – during the main season.. in spring and for fall planting, it requires more work of course. Mulching the beds with straw REALLY helps with weeds and watering. Big time! Keep us posted – can’t wait to see your progress! – Niki

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