All right, so we’re really doing this gardening thing.  How do I know?  Because I’m writing this post.  I’m commiting to a garden by telling the world (or, the five people who read this).  Now you can give me a hard time if the summer rolls by and all you see are pictures of me at the beach instead of kneeling in the dirt pulling weeds.

As soon as Anuj and I agreed to the garden, I began my favorite activity: ripping pictures out of magazines. 

It wasn’t long before I had the entire produce aisle worked into our plan.  We were going to have peppers, chard, lettuce, green beans, cilantro, parsley, maybe some tomatoes, carrots and squash.   The magazine-ripping frenzy faded when I learned that not every vegetable is exactly easy to grow, that some vegetables are like candy for deer and other creatures, and oh yeah, that I have no idea which vegetables grow when (lest you take me for a complete idiot, I do know what vegetables are in season throughout the summer/fall, I just don’t know when you’re supposed to plant them).

I needed to back up, put the seed catalogs away, and make a plan. 

This meant calling my Dad.  His first question was ‘is your soil any good?’  Well, I don’t know.  It looks good.  There’s little french drains around the edges which probably means the soil was good enough that the previous owners invested some money in maintaining it.   ‘Just put some dirt into a glass jar, go down to your hardware store and buy a ph kit to test it.’  Before I had time to do a ph test, a friend turned me onto the idea of a raised bed.   ‘It’s easy’, she said.  ‘Especially if you’re only going to do a few vegetables’ (she saw right through my produce aisle fantasies). 

My first thought about raised beds was that they must be for beginners who are too lazy to maintain their own soil, so they just run out and buy fancy soil that’s kept in a container that doesn’t even connect with the earth, it just sits on top of it.  Seeing a raised bed sitting in a big, beautiful yard like ours screamed “lazy New Yorkers” to me. 

Then I went to Margaret Roach’s A Way to Garden, where she recommends raised beds for beginners.  

Then I googled it and found no shortage of opinions.   Here’s what I found.

Pros:

  • better soil
  • less weeding
  • more flexibility / modular
  • better drainage

Cons:

  • bigger initial investment
  • wood has potential to rot or break down over time
  • drainage issues
  • climbing/vining plants not really an option

I know, I know, I’ve got drainage as both a pro and a con.  But that’s what I found.

The gist seems to be that experienced gardeners use raised beds, too, so we wouldn’t look like lazy dilettantes.  I hope.  I want to decide before April ends.  Any thoughts?

all images www.bhg.com

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