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Posted by The Oregonian January 18, 2009 05:21AM<!– The Oregonian –>
Make a simple raised bed
In vegetable gardening, time and temperatures are key. Both the air and soil must be warm enough to get a garden on its way. Investing in a soil thermometer is inexpensive and worthwhile if you’re serious about vegetable gardening. You can speed up the process: Raised beds help soil warm up faster in spring, allowing earlier planting and an extended growing season. Here’s an idea for a simple raised bed that we’ve seen produce prodigious amounts of vegetables. This bed can reach 80 degrees as early as mid-April if covered with black plastic during the winter. It will enable you to plant heat-lovers such as tomatoes and eggplant sooner.
Begin with four to six bales of straw (about $7 each at a feed store) arranged in a square or rectangle. Tie them together on the inside corners with wire, or pound wood stakes in the ground at the outside corners and along the bales to keep them from shifting.
Fill the middle with soil and compost. Peat moss, composted steer manure and construction sand also can be added.
— HGNW staff