This week, Martin & Sylvia help Daddy build raised garden beds in the story “No Boo Boo Day,” working carefully to avoid getting injured. We thought about building raised beds in parts of our garden, but our space is ill-suited for it. Our garden is on a slope, and we’re working on building up the soil while we get to know the land, sometimes still moving our beds around.
So, while the construction of a wood-framed bed might be a fun project for Oliver, especially now that he is bigger, we went for a super-simple carry-and-drop kind of garden bed when he was smaller, and years later, still use it for his herb garden.
The nice part about framing in a small bed with rocks is that you can shape it any way you want without complicating your building plans. One year, we made a heart shape, but our “O” for Oliver has been going strong ever since, and we haven’t felt the need to change it.
What You Need
- Muscle Power
Find a spot in the garden that your child(ren) gravitates to. It should be easily accessible, for tending without help. If you make the bed against a fence, keep it narrow enough that your child can reach to weed and harvest all the way to the back of the bed. If you want to make a round or shaped bed, be sure that the middle is reachable from all sides.
Use a good soil with compost in it, or add your own. We want to nurture a positive gardening experience, so start with the best quality you can to ensure some degree of success. We heaped the dirt into our basic shape (shoveling has always been the most fun), and then refined it as we tamped it down. Then, the ever-satisfying carry-and-drop can begin. Choose rocks large enough to reach the top edge of your soil. You want to provide stability for your shape and keep the soil in. You can also use cut-offs from branches, bricks, plastic mini-fencing, or anything that will provide a wall around your bed.
As for what to plant, we decided to grow some of Oliver’s favorite ingredients for herbal tea. For the outer edges, a low border of chamomile, and then lavender further in, and then in middle of the circle, the mint, which we keep in a pot to avoid spreading. Mint is the only perennial for us, so we can change our minds every year about what goes into his garden. It’s fun to plan and draw different designs for the space, and have your child illustrate their fantasy garden.
The planning stage is a great time to go over how a seed packet is read, paying close attention to how much space a plant needs and how tall it will get. The tallest plants should be in the middle of a free standing bed, or in the back of a bed that is against a fence or wall, and have similar needs for sun or shade. Your child may prefer to grow veggies rather than herbs in his or her space. Encourage choices that are good for drying or preserving so the garden magic can be enjoyed all year long! Oliver always thinks things taste better when he’s grown and harvested them!
About the Author
Shannon is a farmer, writer, mixed media artist, photographer, and dreamer, navigating the wilderness of modern life from a Little House in the Young Woods of southern Vermont.