Garden Bed of the Month
Catherine and Blake Meike
Catherine and Blake Meike searched the internet a couple of years ago, looking for a garden bed system that fit their needs. They found it in Durable GreebBeds. One challenge was that their yard is all cement, so they needed something that would allow them to place their garden beds on a solid surface.
“We could have brought in dirt, and we did bring in dirt to fill the beds,” says Catherine, “but jacking up all of the concrete wasn’t going to happen. That would have been a much bigger job!”
The Meike’s got two of the 4x8x1-foot garden bed kits. These beds are taller than most other raised bed kits on the market. The depth allows for plenty of root space for veggies or flowers, which made them especially attractive for their yard’s hard surface. They also got two 8×8-foot beds with a corner cut out.
Blake and Catherine are replacing the PVC stakes that come with the garden kit by cleating the gardens to the concrete. “I was concerned that, especially the 8-foot dimensions, would, over time, bow out under pressure from the dirt,” he explains. “To prevent this, I am attaching 2-foot sections of 2×4 to the concrete, in the center of the bases of the long walls. I’m pretty sure that will do the trick.”
Catherine put down permeable plastic cloth so that the dirt wouldn’t escape from underneath them. She also put down two to four inches of rubber mulch. “I like the beds to be higher, but I didn’t need to fill them completely with dirt,” Catherine says. “So now there’s some support, there’s some good drainage, and I didn’t have to buy quite as much dirt.”
The Meikes have had the stepped beds for three years, and the others for just under two years now. When they lived in a previous home, Blake made traditional wooden garden beds, but in their new home, that wasn’t practical. Plus, the yard where the beds are is huge, at 20 by 60 feet. Since both work full time, neither wanted to manage making that many beds, not to mention the tasks of replacing them as they wore out.
Now, the couple enjoys growing anything that they can’t easily find at the farmers market, including different varieties of green beans and tomatoes. Cucumbers, carrots, and scallions mingle with less common produce such as arugula, escarole, and bok choy. She’s also got artichokes, and herbs including basil and cilantro. One attractive touch she’s done is to plant marigolds in between the rows of tomatoes — which is not only pretty but
marigolds may help protect the tomato plants from harmful root-knot nematodes in the soil.
Installing a drip system on each bed has been a real timesaver, as managing a garden of that size would be tough without it. “Each of the beds has its own time to go on,” she says, “and that’s worked out really nicely, getting the water exactly to the roots, especially for the tomatoes.”
So how does Catherine like the beds now? “They’re awesome!” she enthuses. “We wouldn’t do anything else.”