Winter Tasks: Building Garden Beds

How do we build Garden Beds?

Since our property is brand new to us, we are able to start from the beginning and bring you along for that journey. We decided we wanted to follow a permaculture and back to eden method blend for our first garden beds. Because our property is former agriculture land, we have fairly stripped and depleted soils and lots of rocks. The first order of business is getting biomass, LOTS of it. So far we have had 3 dump truck deliveries of wood chips, several loads of hay and straw as well as 2 pickups full of composted cow manure delivered. We also pick up coffee grounds from the local Starbucks daily.

What do we put into a bed?

First we start with a layer of cardboard or construction paper. Next goes on a thick layer of wood chips, 3-4 inches deep. After that we put on a thick layer of hay and or straw mixed with coffee grounds, then the cow manure and another layer of wood chips. This layering lets everything meld over winter and even just a month or so after doing this we have much higher numbers of earth worms doing their thing and the ground beneath the pile is soft. The beds do shrink as everything decomposes over the winter, so we are adding more layers as we have time. Here is a video of early on in the building process. 

Vegetable scraps

We compost mulched leaves, kitchen scraps etc in several compost bins and will be using that when we transplant starts in the spring. Compost is basically gold in a garden setting, and we want to make sure each plant gets some of it to use as it currently is our most limited resource.

How do you build garden beds? Comment below!


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1 Response to Winter Tasks: Building Garden Beds

  1. Rev LizAnn Brain says:

    you don’t have to have a huge compost pile. You can start with a 3′ circle, or even a large wooden box. I have also used old plastic trash cans that have rips/holes in the bottom for this. You can often get plastic rolls specifically made for backyard composting, that are 3′ tall from the recycle center or the Agricultural Center for your county. Make a circle using 36″ rebar from hardware store to support and twist ties to attach to the rebar. (you will need 4 rebar)

    Start layering in. I start with some cut up small brush or small thin sticks in the bottom. Then grass clippings for about 3 to 5″. Then leaves if you have them. We save ours in the fall in brown bags and also collect as many as we can of the bags of leaves the neighbors put on curb for pick up. We dump out the leaves and mulch with our mower to make the leaves smaller to compost faster. This is not absolutely necessary, but helps in not retaining puddles in the compost pile. Layer leaves with every grass clipping you do of your yard. The grass (green) makes it go hot to kill weed seeds and insects. As you go along you can add house scraps of vegetables and fruit trimmings/scraps. You can add clean (no tape or labels) cardboard, shredded paper (computer waste). Water it in between the layering, it will “perk”, to mulch properly it needs air and water. Use a pitch fork to turn it about every two to three weeks. This is when its good to have two containers as you can easily flip it to the next container and get to the bottom.

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