Cappers Farmer Blogs > Old Dog, New Tricks

Eight Beds and Counting

Mary ConleyDear readers, I’ve been wanting to tell you about all our garden beds. So far, we have eight 20 x 30 foot beds on our little hobby farm, and they all took a lot of work. The first one, the kitchen garden, is right across the lane from our sliding glass door. It was already there when we bought the place, and we planted sweet corn in it the first summer. Deer, who love sweet corn and will travel miles for it, walked right on past, and that is why we decided to make the other beds the same size.

I wanted the garden bed to be more practical and usable, so I came up with somewhat of a plan, and Todd went to work on it. In only a few hours, the men had it built. Oh, I love it when they do that!

Raised beds

A half-raised bed continues around the fence, with two long, full-sized beds in the middle. We didn’t put boards along the fence, but packed it with straw. This whole area had already been built up with many rich lasagna style layers, so we only needed 2x4 boards, which also saved us from hauling in so much dirt and other amenities. It snowed during the night, but this bed was ready and waiting at planting time!

The other beds:

Bed two and three are apple orchards.

Bed four is a variety orchard.

Bed five is a berry bed with blackberries and raspberries.

Bed six holds two semi-dwarf cherry trees in the middle and six mostly dead blueberry bushes.

Bed seven has three grape vines down the middle with plenty of room for more garden on either side.

Then there is bed eight. I so want to tell you the story of the making of bed eight!

I once had the pleasure of tasting a gooseberry crisp, so I thought I needed gooseberry bushes. We purchased three from Earl May Nursery and planted them out in the open. Just before harvest time, something ate them off, berries, thorns and all. We debated a few times on how to enclose them before it happened the next year, but couldn’t come up with a solution. Then, I hesitantly told Larry there was something else on my dream list that I wanted to plant, so maybe we could build another 20 x 30 foot bed around the gooseberry bushes. I hesitated because I knew he didn’t care for what I had it mind: asparagus. I recited its many redeeming qualities, such as it is the first garden vegetable ready to eat in the spring, and it being a perennial that lasts for years. Sustainability! Both Todd and Nancy liked asparagus so Larry said he would be a good sport and give it a try.

Fencing is expensive and hard work to install, but one late winter day, Larry and Todd went out in the cold ... and eventual drizzle, and built a fence around three scraggly gooseberry bushes and a potential plot for a vegetable that Larry didn’t even like! Har! Har! Giggle! Snort! I just have to laugh every time I think about it!


A revived gooseberry bush.


Horseradish: Todd also boxed in a place to grow invasive horseradish. We all studied the roots, but couldn’t tell which end should go up, so we planted it horizontal!


The asparagus bed: We filled the left-over space with June-bearing strawberries. You can see them on the far top left corner.


This past spring was a great year for the strawberries, and we picked more than 66 pounds off that small area (about 7 by 30 feet). Nancy did most of the picking and freezing, plus making lots of strawberry jam.

I guess you could say Larry was rewarded for his good attitude and hard work since he loves strawberries. He also discovered that asparagus isn’t that bad. Yes, the eighth bed started out rather crazy, but it ended up full of good stuff.