by Robin Layton
“Here comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin’ down the bunny trail.” And straight into your garden. Those carrots are looking pretty irresistible to Mr. Cottontail. But, if you put that garden in a raised box, with some wire fencing around the top of the box, Peter will need to visit your neighbor’s garden for those carrots.
Raised beds aren’t new, but they are making a resurgence, especially for senior gardeners. Planting, hoeing and weeding can make your back ache, strain your legs and make you dizzy from bending over. A raised bed can eliminate that discomfort.
They are also perfect for growing a small plot of flowers and vegetables, providing decent drainage and there are less weeds to deal with. The bed can serve as a barrier for Peter, but also for slugs and snails.
Some gardeners recommend using copper flashing to border your box to keep slugs and snails from reaching the box top.
Jeff Schalau, Associate Agent, Agriculture & Natural Resources, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, recommends making “sure you have enough raised bed area to rotate crops. For example, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers should not be grown in the same space year after year due to buildup of soil-borne disease organisms.”
“Trellises, nets, cages, strings, and/or poles should be used to support twining plants and better utilize vertical space. I cage my tomatoes, trellis my pole beans and cucumbers, and stake my eggplant and peppers. Keep in mind that using vertical space impacts the amount of light that reaches the ground. Plan accordingly by planting shade tolerant crops in these shadier areas. Shade tolerant crops include leafy vegetables and cruciferous crops like broccoli, kale, and cabbages.”
A few ideas to plant in August include herbs like dill, basil and cilantro. Kale, lettuce, radishes, peas and onions are good August vegetables, as are beans, carrots and corn.
GET THE KIDS INVOLVED!
Yavapai County has eight 4-H Clubs. A club is an organized group of at least five members from three different families who meet regularly with adult volunteers or staff for a long-term, progressive series of educational experiences. The purpose of a 4-H club is to provide positive youth development opportunities to meet the needs of young people to experience belonging, mastery, independence and generosity — the Essential Elements — and to foster educational opportunities tied to the Land Grant University knowledge base.
A club will:
- Conduct a minimum of six regular club meetings per year.
- Selects youth officers or youth leaders to provide leadership to the club.
- Meet in any location — a home, community center, library, public housing site, school, after school program and/or many other places.
- Is advised by adult staff or volunteers who been screened, certified and trained.
For membership information, contact us at email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (928) 445-6590 ext. 229. You will need to pay your program fee to the club leader and fill out any paperwork they may have for their club. Learn more at extension.arizona.edu/4h/yavapai.
LET’S BUILD IT
- Railroad ties
- Precast stones
- Cement blocks
- Wood pallets
- Rock or stone you’ve collected
- Store-bought premade kits
- Wood needs to be rot-resistant or treated with a preservative.
- Beds are generally 3- to 4-feet wide and can be as long as you prefer.
- Place cascading plants in the front of the bed, with trellised plants in the back.