Last week I was on the phone with one of my friends from church and we were talking about becoming vegetarian. I haven’t arrived yet, but I’m working on it. There are good and bad things connected to both.
One thing I do know is that there is a settlement in California called Loma Linda where there are a significant number of centenarians. The point is, most of these centenarians are vegetarians.
This concentration of centenarians and vegetarians is no accident. Eating healthy vegetables and limiting meats is known as the Eden Diet in a 2013 US Money report. The results are significant to this study in that these vegetarians live more than a decade longer than most of us.
My friend told me that he really didn’t like the vegetable offerings that he normally saw on store shelves. I agreed with him up to a point. What I did was recall a study from the World Health Organization that noted that there was a significant difference between organically grown vegetables and fruits and conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.
If you are looking for an organically grown vegetable, it will have an ample source of nutrients compared to a conventionally grown product. In other words, conventionally grown produce probably didn’t have the trace nutrients that we all need in our diets. That means that a wise man can look for alternatives to going to the market if he cannot find posters of organically grown produce on the items he would like to buy.
When we were installing some raised beds a few years ago at the North End Community Improvement Collaborative in Mansfield, we all noticed a lot of benefits the first few years we were there. The beds had excellent garden soil, organic matter, and soil amendments. The ground remained light and airy because no one walked on the ground. The soil was not compacted and did not need tillage.
While working on that parking lot, we had the freedom to add soil, rich organic matter, compost, and soil additives that would produce the food we wanted. Keep in mind that the soil settles and the plants will deplete the nutrients, which means you will add fresh soil to the raised beds regularly.
Tips for gardening in raised beds
Because the soil has been improved and enriched with nutrients, the density of the plants can be increased so that it has a higher plant-soil ratio. Since you don’t walk in beds, you don’t need to walk between rows.
The challenge is that you have to bend over the beds to care for the plants, which means that the length of your arms will determine how well you can care for the plants. More vegetable plants will also mean more shade on the ground and fewer weeds.
When you collect most of the seed packets, you will see that the plant you are placing in its raised bed does best in well-drained soil. Raised beds are generally raised, which means that the floor drains more quickly than level beds. Most raised beds will find a rich, well-draining medium, unlike our heavy loamy soil here in Ohio, where we can range from a little clay to needing a pick, a stud bar, and a stick of dynamite to stir. soil. Keep in mind that your raised bed will likely need more watering than your ground level bed.
Moles, voles, and chipmunks are best controlled with raised beds. These floor dwellers have a more difficult time getting through the wood and wire mesh that lines the bottom of the bed.
Instead of spraying each plant individually, you can spray around the bed and control certain pests. With the raised bed you can install bird nets or mosquito nets over the top of the beds or other insect exclusion cloth. In general, pest control is easier with raised beds.
Next year when you’re planning your own gardens, you really need to consider raised beds.
I hope you have a happy new year. As you stroll through their gardens and see some challenges please let me know. I will help as much as I can, as he would drop me a line at email@example.com. I’ll be back at ohiohealthyfoodcooperative.org soon. Thank you for participating in our column.
Eric Lawson of Jeromesville is a veteran landscaper and gardening enthusiast and a founding board member of the Ohio Chapter of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.