by Robin Layton
“Here comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin’ down the bunny trail.” And straight into your garden. Those carrots are looking pretty irresistible to Mr. Cottontail. But, if you put that garden in a raised box, with some wire fencing around the top of the box, Peter will need to visit your neighbor’s garden for his snack.
Raised beds aren’t new, but they are making a resurgence, especially for senior gardeners. Planting, hoeing and weeding can make your back ache, strain your legs and make you dizzy from bending over. A raised bed can eliminate that discomfort.
They are also perfect for growing a small plot of flowers and vegetables, providing decent drainage, and there are fewer weeds to deal with.
Master Gardener Julie Orris Olson feels raised beds are excellent for smaller plants like lettuce, carrots and spinach. “Don’t crowd your plants too much or you can stunt them. Worse yet, you invite diseases if the plants are stressed.”
She explained there are two planting seasons in the Golden Corridor. “Since we don’t have the frequent or deep freezes that you see in Northern Arizona, we have two planting seasons for summer crops and winter crops. Right around the beginning of fall is the time to plant your winter crops.” A few ideas to plant in September include herbs like dill, basil and cilantro. Kale, lettuce, potato, turnips, radishes, peas and onions are also good fall vegetables, as are beans, carrots and corn.
Olson recommends filling your raised bed with a mix of good soil and potting mix. “Our desert soil has very little composted material in it and you’ll need that, so add the potting mix. It will also aid in absorbing more water.”
Treated wood for the structure is best – or you could end up with termites. You can use many items to support twining plants, and make use of your vertical space. Trellises or poles are best.
LET’S BUILD IT
- Railroad ties
- Precast stones
- Cement blocks
- Wood pallets
- Rock or stone you’ve collected
- Store-bought premade kits
- Wood needs to be rot-resistant or treated with a preservative.
- Beds are generally 3- to 4-feet wide and can be as long as you prefer.
- Place cascading plants in the front of the bed, with trellised plants in the back.
JUST FOR THE KIDS
Did you know several 4-H Clubs are active in Pinal County? 4-H is the largest youth organization in the United States and is open to ages 5-19. Arizona 4-H is delivered by University of Arizona Cooperative Extension that provides experiences in which young people learn by doing. Kids complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and citizenship, in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles.
Find a Local Club: