It’s easy to forget this, but some years the ground would still be frozen hard right now. Digging would be like chipping at bedrock, and any outdoor gardening projects would still be distant fantasies.
This funny winter the ground only partially froze a few times, and that was back in December. The soil in Philadelphia has been completely thawed for weeks now, meaning in theory it’s possible to get started on Gardening 2012. But it’s still early, and there’s nothing for sale in the nurseries yet. Besides raking leaves for the umpteenth time, what’s an antsy gardener to do? After reflecting on this, last weekend I decided to build some raised beds.
I don’t grow a lot of edible plants, but I do have a little space in my yard that is out of the way and (as I recall from last year) gets some decent sun in the summertime. I thought it might be time to try my hand with vegetables here. Raised beds appealed because they’re easier to keep somewhat maintained, and I hope that sidewalls will give the plants a little protection from errant foot traffic, animals, and bouncing balls. They’re also the prudent choice for planting near an old house, which has been shedding lead paint flakes for years and has slightly contaminated the nearby soil.
For materials, we used what we had, which was rough cut lumber left over from another project. The beds are simple frames about 7′ by 3.5′ and about fifteen inches high. They’re filled with about a foot of half topsoil, half compost mix.
It was fun to be outside and wake up some muscles that had been unused for a few months. It was even more fun to buy some seed packets the next day. I got a bunch of cool season crops, and in the tradition of a true amateur I’ve decided to plant some of them now, even though it’s way too early. I’m banking on the idea that winter really is over, and that this premature spring is going to stick around. Also, now that the raised bed project is finished, I need something else to do outside.