Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Raised beds

I realized that if I'm going to be posting pictures of our garden, I should give a little history of how it got to be a booty kicking, food producing powerhouse. You see, when we bought our house, the backyard was just a flat stretch of weedy grass with a flat concrete patio. And by "flat" I don't actually mean flat, I mean very gently graded down towards our house, so that when it rained heavily, water poured down from the back of the yard, across the lawn and piled up near the house instead of absorbing into the soil. Basically, the yard was flat, boring and had drainage problems.

About a year after we moved in, we set about changing that. Now to be perfectly honest, I didn't do very much of the work. I had a toddler to deal with and was still suffering the after effects of post-partum depression & exhaustion. The design of the irrigation system was all my husband's doing, and a lot of the heavy labor was shared with his best friend, who had just gone through a rough break-up and needed some outdoor therapy. I can't speak to how economical the whole thing was because, frankly, my husband has a tendency to spend first and ask questions later. But man... the irrigation system in particular was SO worth it. Where we live, we get VERY hot, dry summers and having an automatic drip system makes it tremendously easy to get great veggie yields with little wasted water.

Anyway, here's a before picture...

The sod cutter made short work of the scroungy grass...

After removing the sod, there was a lot of digging and work on the irrigation system. Previously the yard had a 2 zone sprinkler system for the "lawn". He pretty much wiped out the entire zone for that side of the yard and tapped it for the irrigation to the raised beds. He ran PVC pipe under the area where we were putting the beds in, and then ran a pipe up the side of each of the beds with a faucet on it. That way we can turn water on or off to each bed individually. So for instance, when the grapes have all been eaten (by the birds & squirrels more than us), we can turn off the water to the bed that houses the grapes and keep the water flowing to the other beds. We then use a female hose coupling to attach the 1/2" irrigation tubing onto the faucets, and then design the remainder of the drip system to suit each bed. We can reconfigure the system as needed to fit the plant layout, although I'm trying to standardize that a bit so we don't have to keep reworking it all the time.

This picture shows the beds up & filled with soil, and the faucets for the drip system in place.


  1. Oh god, I hope not! We still have a lot more work to do on ours.