From time to time I’ll be asking a timely gardening question of master gardener Dorothy Mullen. To start off our series, today’s question is: What are some simple things to consider in choosing a spot for a garden bed?
There is some guess work involved in selecting a location because you have to predict where the sun is going to shine for at least six hours (for leafy greens) and preferably eight hours (for anything that fruits, like beans and tomatoes). For crop plants, you want as much south-facing, uninterrupted light as you can get. You need to be sure you have a water source near by. That’s pretty much it if you’re doing a raised bed. You don’t need a soil test because you are bringing in a growing medium. The deer pressure is way less in my neighborhood than it used to be, but if you have to protect against deer, you’ll need a 7-foot-high fence. You can get steel posts and netting at Obal’s or Belle Mead Co-op.
As for putting the bed down in your chosen spot, Dorothy added:
You want to lay thick whole sections of newsprint under the soil to suppress weeds for a year or two, and I put the newsprint around the bed and covered with mulch too to create a walkway.
Don’t let the grass grow right up to the bed or it will be a headache to mow around it.
Speaking of gardening tips: Dorothy will be leading Lawn-to-Food tours and workshops on the second Saturday of every month from April to October. Each session will start at 9:30 a.m. at Riverside Elementary School. The workshops are free, but participants are required to register in advance by emailing Dorothy. The first workshop, on April 14, is a great way to get started:
Bring a paper egg carton; we’ll have starting mix and seeds to share. Take home a dozen different seeds to start. Also learn to direct sew seeds into raised beds, starting with plants that tolerate some frost: kale and collard greens. Take home raspberry bushes.
Please check back for more gardening tips!