Dara plants

The cooler weather has been a nice break from the heat for these Dara, a carrot relative.

What a nice break from the heat we had earlier this week! I hope you all had a chance to spend a little time in your gardens during the more tolerable temperatures. I spend time dead-heading flowers-mostly roses, black-eyed Susans and zinnias as well as pulling weeds. I am still “flat-earth” gardening and am seriously considering a conversion to raised beds. Raised bed with prevent the grasses I have growing in the rows from creeping into the flower beds. I’ll have to sharpen up my basic carpentry skills (of which I have very few). With the help of my husband, it can be done. I’m not making any promises though. I have a few other projects going on right now (even if some of them are still in my head and haven’t even begun).

If you are considering a raised bed for your garden here are a few things to think about. The major goal of raised beds to keep the feet of gardeners out of the garden where they can compact precious soil. Raised beds also prevent weeds from creeping into them from the rows and protects young plants and loose soil from washing away after heavy rains. Raised beds should be 3 to 4 feet wide, but no wider. The length of the bed is up to gardener, the longer the bed, the more growing space.

Taller raised beds will require more imported soil to fill them up, and this can get expensive. For wheelchair access raised beds can be built that are 10 inches deep, but elevated off the ground with legs or blocks. Be sure the bottom of the bed is strong enough to both hold the weight of the soil when it is wet and allow for water to drain. I’ll probably build my beds about a foot and a half high. That will keep the garden contained and allow the kids easy access to help me in the garden. Building them shorter will also help cut down on the cost of the lumber I use to build the beds. Be sure not to use treated lumber or creosote soaked railroad ties for your vegetable gardens. These materials can leak harmful chemicals into your soil.

This evening you can enjoy the company of fellow gardeners or plant enthusiast at the Ina Brundrett Conservation Education Center at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center. The lecture starts at 7 p.m., last typically 45-50 minutes, and will be followed by a plant raffle. Parking is available at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center and at Raguet Elementary.

For more information, contact SFA Gardens at sfagardens@sfasu.edu.

Lacey Russell is a freelance garden writer. She can be reached at alicecreek flowers@gmail.com.

Lacey Russell is a freelance garden writer. She can be reached at alicecreek flowers@gmail.com.

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