Sunday, January 11, 2009

Raised Beds and Onions

At our Saturday meeting (which Rick will soon be blogging about) the subject of raised beds came up. There are as many ways of raising vegetables as there are gardeners, all of them being a matter of choice.

One reason to choose raised beds is better drainage and less bending (which we appreciate the older we get!) Paula P. sent a photo of her raised bed, saying it's been a while since it looked this good and that she's interested in getting started with chickens (& their manure) and drip irrigation.

Looks like Paula used cedar to build her boxes. (Comment Paula?) Cedar is a good choice because it's fairly rot resistant. For those of you considering raised beds, you don't want to use any type of treated lumber because of the chemicals, or railroad ties because of the creosote. These substances leach out and would be harmful, and contrary to the idea of eating healthy!

Since our garden is pretty large we've opted for using scrap pine we get from damaged pallets and helping others tear down old stuff. It won't last as long as cedar, but we can't complain about the cost. We are the ultimate scavengers. At first, we feared our garden would look like a hobo encampment, but don't you think Rick has done a wonderful job putting it all together? Using free stuff takes longer than working with dimensional lumber, mostly because of the disassembling first required, but you are doing the Earth a big favor when you recycle materials otherwise destined for the landfill.

To neaten things up a bit, and to provide a nice sitting edge from which to do our seeding and weeding, we do add new pine boards on top. We will seal these with something like Thompson's water seal. You can see the strap ties holding some of the sections together. This is the onion bed Rick built the last two days and we planted this morning. You can see the drip irrigation spigot poking up in the right hand side of the bed. Drip irrigation soaker lines will be run off the multi-head spigot.

January is time to plant onion sets. Last year we bought our onions from Brown's Omaha Onions located in east Texas and had a very good crop. Although the adorable Brown daughters are so cute, this year we opted to purchase our onions closer to home, from Dixondale Farms in Carrizo Springs. They claim to be the oldest onion plant grower in the nation, starting their family business in 1913. We have been pleased with both of them.

If you are going to order onion sets, one thing you need to know is you will need to order "short day" plants. (It seems to me our days are very long, but apparently this is not so). This is fairly well explained on both their websites. We always order the short day mix of yellow-red-white because we like variety.

Do any of you have something to add about raised beds or onions? If so, please comment!


  1. Not Cedar. Those two beds were made from the planks of our deck, the only usable things left when the house burned. I couldn't stand to see that wood go to waste after we had spent so much money adding on that deck!

  2. How wonderful that you were able to make something beautiful from what you could salvage from the tragedy, and symbolic to see how the new life springs out of the old!

  3. Believe me, sitting on the side of those beds; doing a little weeding and a lot of praying, has certainly helped get me through this year! I think they are beautiful. Due to the Pecan orchard my gardening space is limited, in addition to more beds out front, I plan to landscape all around the house with this type bed. Vegetables are beautiful, right!?!

  4. Sage, 5 dozen plants (one bunch) sounds like a lot of onions! How many bunches are you ordering?

  5. Thanks for the informative posts! I am going to tell all of my "gardener" friends and even
    the ones who are not about this blog.
    We all need to be growing Victory gardens
    ,especially with today's finances,nutrition and health concerns for our families.

  6. Thanks, Vanessa! Although the local food movement is just that--local--we are always inspired by those in other locals through what they are doing, and we certainly hope our group is able to inspire others, too.

    By the looks of how many visitors we are getting (see the Feedjit widget in the sidebar)this is already happening!

  7. Hi all, have just signed up to follow this blog. Live part-time near ConCan and part-time in Deer Park (east of Houston), just spent four days in ConCan building raised beds and deer proof fence. I was glad to get soil info (alkaline) had been wondering. All ready have seedlings for green beans, tomatoes, okra and herbs, just got onion sets...see I am late getting them in the ground. Taking onions and compost back on Wed. When can the green beans and tomatoes go in the ground?? When is the last freeze date in the hills? Anyone know? Great site..keep up the good work.