We feel fortunate that we found Vego Garden before losing interest in our sustainable grow our own fruit and vegetable goals. We now have a total of 37, however we started out with 6 which are conveniently located immediately west of our pond. The pond helps with several needs, it allows increased sunlight here in New England which is quite hilly. Additionally as it is full of fish it is a convenient water source, lastly it helps extend the growing season on both ends slightly as it is an immense thermal mass.
The pond is spring fed and packed with at least 13 types of fish. Other than rain, it's our only source of water. We pump water each day into a 250-gallon water tank and then use the water for the beds. Plan ahead for your water source as you are designing your garden, make sure you can deliver adequate water to all of your plants, and make sure you have a water source and hoses which can meet this need. We are slowly moving to drip irrigation, and Vego has some great products to get you started. Taking the time on the front end to get your soil mix right will go a long way in helping you to maintain the right moisture level in the beds.
There are countless ways to fill your beds. For the first year, we started with native topsoil and amended it with, screened sand to keep it loose, vermiculite and peat moss to hold moisture, and lastly a couple tablespoons of bone meal for calcium when transplanting potted plants that we start as seed hydroponically.
This year we have taken a little different approach to filling the beds with soil. We had clean screened sand, topsoil and aged compost delivered from a local farm. This accomplished a couple of things, first we know what we have and where it came from, and next it helps to support the local community which is one of our goals. Vego Garden raised beds are all about growing locally. After years of working corporate jobs, it is great to be a small part of the food to table movement.
This year we added two Vego worm composters into two of the tall 4" X 8" beds and are interested in seeing how it works out. We pre-charged the composters with year old compost, grass clippings and leaves (50/50 mix of brown and green) as well as a good handful of local earthworms. We also are adding several different minerals to the beds to help match the pH of the soil with the needs of the plant. Blueberries for one thrive once you get the pH dialed into what they like. Lastly, we have been buying ladybugs online to help control pests like cucumber beetles, they do a good job and keep the extra chemicals out of the garden and therefore ourselves. Don’t forget to plant a variety of flowers to help attract plenty of bees which is key to pollination and increasing your bounty.
We have learned a lot in the past 5 years and admittedly can learn a lot more. That’s a big part of the enjoyment.. We started out with container gardens. Our experience each year was that they started out great, looked good through June, stalled in July and perished in August. When we converted to Vego Garden raised beds, the plants took off as soon as they found their forever home in the beds and never looked back. Friends and neighbors are amazed at the production we get per square foot. (Full disclosure, I need to share that for the past three years we have been pruning and wintering our many varieties of pepper and then putting them back in their beds in the Spring. The plants can live up to 5 years if you winter them correctly. We have been picking peppers since the last week in July, albeit their production greatly increases as we move to July. A good practice is to thoughtfully rotate the plants in your bed, just as you would do f you were farming 10 acres. I hope sharing this little bit of our experience helps.