Kallo and Zmey Acres

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  • Zmey

Raised Garden Bed

Updated: Jun 15, 2020

septic system leach field fall pagan paleo homestead
View of the septic field from our bedroom window. Can you tell it's fall?

We don't have a lot of sunny areas on our property for growing a vegetable garden. Most get partial sun, at best. Two places really get good, full sun - the north side of the driveway and house, and the septic field. For many reasons, some of which are obvious, we are hesitant to grow anything on the septic field itself. We may add raised beds to the perimeter of it, where it shouldn't cause damage, and raised beds would prevent any contamination problems if the leach field develops any small issues (big issues, and it's all out the window either way!).

container garden
My little container garden beside the gravel driveway.

So with that said, the north side yard and next to the driveway are the easiest spots to start. It gets full or near-to-full sun there, and access from the house is certainly easy!. The biggest downfall is that its on a steep incline. So, while Kallo built an 8x4 raised garden bed, I set to work prepping the spot to be, if not level, at least more level. We placed the box in its new footing, and then I began working on the dirt to fill it.

We have a big pile of topsoil from our own yard, which was dug out to widen the driveway (had to make room for my parent's monster RV and 4 vehicles). It's good, dark topsoil but is filled with rocks and roots, so I needed a way to sift the dirt, since picking it all out by hand would have taken months! Kallo used hardware cloth and scrap wood to make a big sifter. I can fill it and shake, and it takes out everything bigger than small pebbles, or I set it up on a milk crate, had someone else shovel dirt onto it and I moved it around with my hand. The latter was certainly the easiest, and fastest. Both methods also left the dirt very well aerated and soft, ready for planting!

We've so far only filled half of it because heavy rains wetted down the dirt pile so much that the sifter was ineffective. The rabbits have contributed their 'goods' to the garden bed, also! If we had grow-outs, We likely wouldn't even need topsoil - the bunny berries would probably fill the beds to the top!

Raised garden bed with rabbit droppings
Half filled raised bed.

garden path dug into steep hillside for easier access to meat rabbits and raised bed gardens
Garden path in the making.

Next order of business; I needed a flat 'road' to get through so I can take the wagon with hay and supplies in it to the rabbits. We will eventually need that path when the chicken coop is done and receives occupants, also. I tried simply pulling the cart across the hill but the incline is too steep and the whole thing tipped, dumping its contents down the hill. The littles helped with hand trowels but most of the work was done with full-size shovels. I dug out a corner and smoothed the dirt across, to give myself a flat road. I wedged some rotten firewood under the edges, to help it not wash out, but I will have to shore up those edges with something strong - perhaps the metal pipes we found rusting under the previous owner's woodpile will help make a good retaining wall.

Shoring up the edges of the garden bed.

The last problem was the bottom corner and 3/4 of the long side of the garden box. We had to build up the dirt a bit to get it almost level and one good rain might wash out the tentative footing, so it needed its own retaining wall. I have a handful of square foot patio stones that we brought from our old house, which had been bought for a project and never used. I'm glad I decided to lug the things along at the last minute - I'd piled them in our little car the day before closing!

So now we have a bit of a tiered hillside, ready for planting in the spring! I may use the rocks sifted out of the garden dirt to help stabilize the road, as we have a big pile of them to do something with. I also plan to chat with the closest neighbor about the exact line between our properties, and see if he minds a garden going in right along with it, as that's the next sunniest place on the property.

Pavers used to stabilize the raised garden bed and give a stable place to stand or kneel for gardening raised bed organic homestead
Pavers used to stabilize the raised garden bed and give a stable place to stand or kneel for gardening.

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