After weeding our existing dirt patch one last time in the spring of 2014, these pallet beds were the first garden beds I installed (back when I thought you were actually required to have garden beds before you could ever even dream of planting a garden). Jason helped me haul the free pallets home from the local recycle center and buried them, on end, a foot into the ground.
A fun history note: underneath about 9″ of dirt, I found an old stone pathway leading from the NE corner of the lot towards the house. Our house is a carriage house from 1890 so who knows how long ago that pathway could have been laid down before eventually being buried and forgotten. Such history! Instead of covering it all back up and forgetting about it I chose to dismantle part of the walkway and repurpose the beautiful blonde stones throughout the garden (you’ll see them randomly placed and as stepping stones). I love giving new purpose to forgotten things!
So! You’ll notice these two beds are nearly empty. This is due to both a mistake on my part, and a random misfortune.
The mistake: My original thought was to make the walls fairly tall to deter raccoons from snacking on my veggies or pooping on/around the edible plants. We have a terrible raccoon problem ’round these parts. However, the walls of these beds are just too high, creating cool soil and deep shadows until mid summer. This makes it tough to get seeds and seedlings to take hold. That’s not to mention the personal discomfort of leaning over the walls to plant and maintain the beds. I thought about simply filling the beds with deeper soil to relieve both issues, but now that I know how useful hugelkultur mounds are, I’ll definitely be dismantling these beds for next season.
The misfortune: an accidental introduction of a beastly herbicide to my little pesticide- and herbicide-free garden. I was gifted some compost a few years ago from some generous neighbors. It turned out that the compost was contaminated with a very long half-life herbicide. My first year after applying the compost I could grow absolutely nothing in those boxes (this lead to the construction of the beds on the South side of the walkway) The second year I was able to grow some very mutant, sad-looking tomato plants that produced unfortunate fruit that split early and left us with no crop. This year, I sewed a slew of random seeds as an experiment. A few seeds came up in the East box but absolutely none in the other. What is the difference between the two? I have no idea. This is just reaffirms my decision to keep chemicals out of the garden unless absolutely necessary (bindweed spot control with Round-Up has been my one exception so far).