In February of 2009, my husband and I bought our first home located on a few acres in Johnson, Vermont. We live here with our dog, Ollie, two cats: Elvis and Atticus, six Nigerian Dwarf goats: May, Chutney, Poppy, Juniper, Willow, and Jokers Wild, and about fifteen laying hens. And to top it all off we welcomed our daughter, Isabel, into the world on January 11th, 2011.

We're slowly updating our 1850's farmhouse while steadily working towards a healthy, meaningful, self-sufficient life together.

This blog details our endeavors along with our successes and failures- all in good fun. Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you again soon!


May and I enjoying some sunshine


Garden Time: Raised Beds

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Alrighty folks.  I'm sick of waiting, so I'm getting to it.  We're getting the garden ready.

Before I can start planting we need to be sure our beds are ready.  Last year we did the narrow rows as is so often seen in vegetable gardens, but they didn't do well at all.  Now, as I said before, I'm no green thumb gardener so I can't blame it entirely on the width of the rows but I'm sure it didn't help.  So this year we're trying out the methods in Ed Smith's Vegetable Gardener's Bible with the wide rows and raised/deep beds.  Personally, when I think of raised beds I always envision lovely little wooden boxes filled with a garden.  Well, we're too cheap to buy wood for our raised beds so we're going to just pile up the soil and call it good.

Kyle and I roped off the sections that we designated as the beds and began shoveling the soil out of the areas left as walkways.  The soil displaced from the walkways should help raise the soil level in the beds a bit.  Each bed is three feet wide by fifteen feet long.  The walkways are only about a foot wide.  In the end we were able to create 14 beds, and we're planning on doing one more, long bed along the length of our plot where we're going to grow peas, dry beans, and corn in hopes (fingers crossed) that they'll help to act as a bit of a windbreak for the rest of the garden.

After all the beds are created I'll go through each one with a garden fork to aerate the soil a bit.  This is the non-tilling option that is supposed to be much more soil-friendly.  I'm excited, once these beds are created we could just leave them for the long haul, each year adding more organic matter and compost to enrich the soil.  As for the walkways, I'm planning on laying down a few layers of newspaper and then covering them in a bit of straw to block out weeds.

Now if only I had a broadfork...


  1. EcoLife Says:
  2. We tried the same thing at first, piling up the dirt and making mounds. But by the end of the next winter all our lovely topsoil had run away. Heartbreaking really. So we ended up doing the wooden raised bed routine, of course it took us 2 summers to work up the $$ to pay for that. It seems like such a waste of wood.

    I did the newspaper/straw routine too.... accept I accidentally put down hay (because I didn't know any better yet) and boy did I have weeds and sprouts everywhere, it was terrible. Sometimes gardening is just heartbreaking.

    I too long for a broadfork, but I am waiting for my gardening fairy godmother to give me one! LOL ;o)

  3. Melissa Says:
  4. Ah bummer!!

    Yes, we shall see how it all goes- I'm hoping that if I really slant the sides it won't be as bad- the soil drains pretty well so hopefully it won't go running down into the walkways...only time will tell! :)

    Hope your gardening fairy godmother brings you your broadfork! If she does- send her my way next!!

    Happy gardening!

  5. Fyre Says:
  6. Got any old logs or deadwood around or for free? I used them around the perennial flower beds and will just add another on top when it rots into the ground.