This is a continuation of a previous blog post: Our Tropical Forest Garden and Homestead Update.
The information about our recycled raised garden beds was sort of buried in that previous blog post and I wanted to emphasize how efficient and prolific these garden beds are. It’s worth emphasizing because some experiments are not successful and some only produce marginal results. This idea worked incredibly well. For one, the cost was negligible since we used left over scraps from our recycled wood house. The boards were rough and partially rotten, but worked fine for this purpose. The raised beds were quick and easy to construct. I didn’t aim for perfection. No need. Just lined things up by eye, pounded in the stakes and nailed on the boards. We improvised a soil mix of low cost materials that were on hand – topsoil, sugar cane compost (my favorite), manure (my least favorite because of weed seeds). The soil mix was placed on a 2”-3” layer of rice hulls. The hulls are to deter pesky weeds and grass. So far the hulls have worked fine.
We planted small areas of kale, spinach, mustard greens, two kinds of lettuce, cilantro, parsley and leafy Asian celery in stages so we didn’t get overwhelming quantities at any one time. The amount of food produced was incredible. We got wheelbarrows of greens over 6-8 weeks. For a good while I was practically living on large salads of baby greens and microgreens, and green juices every day. Baby greens and microgreens are some of the healthiest foods on the planet, in part because they are young and tender. They’re full of minerals, vitamins and everything else our bodies need. And, they’re super easy to grow. Just keep pinching off the biggest, best leaves and the plants will keep growing and growing tasty, tender young leaves. Let a few plants go to seed for next time.
Perhaps the best advantage of our raised beds is the cost. They’re virtually free when you realize the same garden beds can continue producing for years with minimal inputs. I just laugh when I see the price of a tiny bag of greens in the supermarket. And those are most likely several days old at least and may not be organic. We pick our organic greens fresh and eat within minutes or hours.
Here’s a typical green juice that I often make in our Hurom slow juicer with baby greens and microgreens: lettuce, spinach, celery greens of equal portions. Add two carrots and small quantities of cilantro and/or parsley, plus one or two apples for sweetening. Don’t worry too much about the exact proportions. Just experiment and have fun. Try adding other ingredients like cucumbers and sprouts. Drink immediately for maximum nutrition.
Check out the videos on my YouTube channel Low Cost, Self-Sufficient Homestead