I have been wanting to put in a raised bed herb garden for a long time. This year I finally got the opportunity, partly because I’d been able to get 12 landscape timbers for free. Determining where I was going to build the bed was to longest part of the whole process, as I knew I wanted it close to the house, but the east side yard is too shady to put it there. I will put the kitchen garden there instead, so I can grow cool loving plants like lettuce and cilantro longer. I have terrible luck with cilantro, it always bolts right away for me.
So the herb bed wound up on the south side of the sideyard fence, right in front of our heirloom roses. I used six timbers to make it 12′ x 6′. Before I put any dirt in it, I lined it with feed bags and newspaper, as I hadn’t done any prep of the soil under the bed. As this area had both raspberries and goldenrod coming up due to long neglect, I knew even with 8″ of soil in the bed I’d still have weeds coming through without a barrier.
For filling the bed I used mostly the sandy loam we’d had delivered a while back for another project. It was a little too sandy, so I added two wheelbarrow loads of partially composted leaves as I was filling. The added organic material will help retain some water without adding too much fertilizer. I am planting mostly Mediterranean herbs in this bed, and they prefer a sandy, poor soil. Adding rabbit or horse manure to this bed would have given me problems.
Once I’d filled the bed which took me about two days working on it off and on, I soaked the whole thing thoroughly. The dirt was close to dry while I was filling, and I wanted to make sure the plants got a good start. Up until this morning, we hadn’t had rain for about two weeks. When I was getting ready to plant, bringing starts over from the greenhouse, Glady came home from school and wanted to help. Kids love planting. Something about putting little green starts into the dirt just makes them happy. I’m not ready to trust Johann with the more fragile starts, but Glady is old enough to learn how to spread pot bound roots, and how to be firm enough to take out any air bubbles in the soil while putting the plant in.
We planted herbs and edible flowers in the bed. Rosemary, lavender, thyme, sage and parsley for some of the herbs. Calendula, tagetes marigold, pansies and nasturtium for the edible flowers. Also Borage, chamomile and basil. I still plan to put in purple basil, lemon basil and lime basil, as well as pots of lemon grass, oregano, and stevia. I may have to build another bed for moisture loving plants like mints. Oh, and I need to transplant some chives into this bed. See how one thing at Stonycroft leads to another?