Raised Bed Gardening-Container Gardening with Bushel Baskets.

Bushel Baskets make affordable easy container gardening or raised bed gardens. They can be moved easily particularly if you use half bushel baskets or the little eight quart baskets.

You can pick up used bushel baskets at garage sales, flea markets, auctions or farm stands. They are not even that expensive at basket factories. I pick up baskets for 10 cents to a dollar.

I use compost from my compost bin to fill the basket. (If my crops are heavy feeders  I will put seasoned manure in the bottom of the basket.)

I have grown onions, potatoes, carrots and beets in bushel baskets for years. When it’s harvest time I just dump the basket onto a sheet or piece of plastic and harvest the crop. The soil is returned to the compost bin. I save a lot of time digging up root crops and it’s much easier on the back.

Carrots also benefit from being grown in a bushel basket because there are not rocks in the soil to reshape the carrots. They are super straight and if I get bugs I can easily cover the basket with a thin cloth to protect the crop. It also has stopped those pesky rabbits from sampling and ruining my harvest.

I like putting a couple of baskets right outside the door with a tomato plant, lettuce, radishes, and a few herbs. This saves a trip to the garden and I have a fresh salad by just stepping out the door.

Soil in a bushel basket dries out faster. I have solved this problem by using this technique. I place a plastic soda bottle upside down in the middle of the basket  and place it halfway down into the soil. I use this as a funnel to get the water deep into the soil where it benefits the plant the most. My plants thrive by using this watering method.

I really haven’t found a plant or crop that does poorly in a bushel basket. They look great sitting around the yard and it adds an artistic look to the yard and landscaping. I mix flowers, vegetables and herbs in the baskets to get a colorful great look plus the benefits of combination planting for organic pest control.

Vine crops even do well in the baskets. Just make sure the poles or trellises are secured well.

Bushel baskets only last one year. The soil and water ruin the bottoms. But it’s an easy technique, saves time and adds interest to the yard.

Creative Raised Garden Beds – Part Two

Raised garden beds do not have to be a huge construction project or expensive.

I have used cement blocks, bricks, stone, old doorways, and old boxes.  When using any old found materials check for stains and paints that could be harmful to the soil.

Cement blocks warm up quickly so you can plant some of your crops earlier. You can also plant small plants in the holes in the blocks. I have planted herbs or flowers in the holes with much success. It looks nice and if you chose the right plants you can practice organic pest control.

If you take on a bigger project and build wood boxes for the raised beds just make sure you use unstained wood. It will have to be replaced in a few years but weatherized wood leaches chemicals into the soil and may affect your plants!

My one friend used old plates for an artistic garden art look. I have also seen bowling balls used.

One year I tried straw bales. It worked well but I had the expense of the bales.  The advantage was I had great mulching material at the end of the season.

My favorite and most fun raised beds, really container gardening, is the use of bushel baskets. In the fall I collect bushel baskets at sales, farm stands or auctions. It doesn’t matter if they are a little beat up.

When planting time comes around I get the baskets up and fill them with the composted fresh soil I have made during the winter.

What I like about planting in bushel baskets is that I can chose theme baskets, move the baskets around or place them artistically around the yard or by the door as a mini garden.

The other big plus it that as much as I like gardening I do not like digging up root crops. Using the bushel baskets I can harvest root crops by placing a sheet or plastic near the basket and just turning it over and shaking out the contents. MY crop is harvested in seconds and I haul the used soil back to the compost pile to be re-conditioned!

Raised Bed Gardening – Part One

There are many advantages to raised bed gardening.

  • It’s easier on your back. Raised beds can be a little as six inches high  to as high as  three to four feet. Beds this high usually are in banks or on tables.
  • It’s easier to control larger garden pests such as rabbits, ground hogs and other wild animals that cause crop damage and plant disease.
  • You can cover an area in record time to protect crops from cold winds, frosts or from the sun or insects by attaching posts to the sides or leaving areas where pipes or posts can be inserted. Using this method I can cover my garden if need be in a matter of minutes.
  • You can lay out interesting garden designs. Try different  patterns or  a circular wheel where the center of the garden has a bench or watering stand.
  • Many raised beds use the Square Foot Gardening method or rotating crops for better space usage. By removing crops and covering the area with mulch you can keep the area ready to plant at any time and improve the soil at the same time. I often do this for an early pea crop, lettuce which I plant several times during the season and other short season crops.
  • Watering can be simplified and you will use less water by only applying it to the areas that need it.
  • The soil warms up faster in a raised bed garden meaning you can plant earlier. By covering an area with black plastic you can further speed the soils temperature. Planting can be moved up by a couple of weeks.
  • Mowing around a raised bed garden is easier.
  • You can work one small part of a garden at a time and not feel overwhelmed if you have a large garden.

Disadvantages to a Raised Bed Garden

  • Raised beds dry out faster so will use more water. I have found that by watering well at the beginning of the season and applying a heavy mulch I can remedy the problem. I also use a deep watering method for plants and crops that like a lot of water like cucumbers.
  • Planning and building raised beds.

Any disadvantages can be easily overcome. For raised beds you do not have to build a garden frame if you don’t want.

You can also use a variety of found items to use as frames. Bushel baskets, old boxes, wheel barrel, etc.. These item can add fun and become a focal point to your garden and backyard.

Check out Creative Raised Beds

Fall Gardening – Clean up for Organic Pest Control

Most people are finishing up with their gardens and winterizing their garden sites in October. The lucky ones are starting their gardens and others are making plans for winter gardens.
Whichever stage you are in , one thing is a given. There is a certain amount of clean up that needs to be done and will benefit the health of your garden area.

By leaving behind stems and old plants you make a safe haven for insects to overwinter or leave behind eggs that will hatch later. Also, if a plant was diseased but didn’t show signs of being unhealthy the disease can affect the soil and bring in more destructive insects.

 

For a healthy organic garden it’s best to clean up the debris. It’s also enjoyable to clean up the garden area, get it organized for next year and dream of the perfect garden! So what should you do?

 

  • Some people will break the ground and add new nutrients to the soil.
  • Make sure any weeds are removed. This is a good idea if you plan to start early spring crops. Your garden will be ready to plant with little work.
  • You can chop up the healthy crops and add them to the compost pile that will benefit your garden next year.
  • If you don’t have a compost pile now is the perfect time to start one.
  • By chopping up leaves and any grass clippings you can cover up your garden area to protect it from the winter cold. This covering can be worked into the ground in the spring and will enrich the soil.
  • Clean and put away any stakes and and make notes of any new stakes or garden tools or products you may need.
  • It’s very important to clean your garden tools. Wash them, remove any dirt and repair any handles. Put your tools away and organize them if needed.
  • If you use raised beds make sure they are in good shape and and add any soil or composting matter that will help improve the soil.
  • If you use cold frames to extend the season it’s the perfect time to move them into place and plant your cool weather crops.
  • Place burlap around around your delicate or new shrubs and trees. This will help protect them from the cold winter winds.
  • It’s time to sit down and evaluate the garden. Decide what worked and what you need to change. Possibly you many want to make out a garden design and start creating next year’s garden.
  • When the weather gets cold its the perfect time to get out seed catalogs and choose next years crops. For fun try a new flower, vegetable, herb or vine.

GrowVeg.com” target=”_blank”>veggrow.com to help me plan my garden. I find by using it my gardens grow better and produce more.

Remember anything is possible with a garden. It’s fun and relaxing and the herbs, flowers and vegetables are better when grown in your backyard! Try creative organic gardening techniques in your garden.

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