I was curious about the fact that nothing would grow near the thistles. I Googled and learned that this variety of thistle produces a herbicide that inhibits the growth of other plants. Charming. What to do about the thistles?
I finally decided to dig the thistles one more time. Next, I covered the site with thick landscape fabric and built a raised bed twenty inches high over the top of the thistle patch. I planted the bed to artichokes, bulbs and snapdragons.
My plan worked. It quickly became the most productive bed in my garden. It’s easy to weed out the few weeds that do get started. I really couldn’t find a down-side to the bed. It became the mainstay of my flower business after my stroke when I had trouble getting up and down from the ground.
The deep raised bed was so prolific even my non-gardening hubby noticed how easy it was to weed, and how it was always full of flowers and tasty artichokes. At the same time that my raised brick bed was the shining glory of my garden, the old timbers on my old raised beds were rotting out. It was decision time—what to do with the old beds?
The answer was a bit of a no-brainer. We built three new raised beds using concrete block and brick. This is a system that works for us. We need to keep our food crops above the native soil contaminated with arsenic so we need some form of raised bed. I like the fact that the brick won’t rot out in about ten to thirteen years. I’ve capped my concrete block with solid brick to provide a nice seating surface for sitting and working in the bed.
The brick really isn’t any more expensive than buying cedar boards for raised beds. The brick allows us to raise the beds eighteen inches instead of the eight we had in wood. As we age, I’m hoping that the high beds keep us gardening after we can no longer get up and down from the ground easily.
For a small garden the deep raised beds would be super efficient because they are so prolific. I also recommend them for anyone gardening on impossibly clay or sandy soil. I admit for someone who has uncontaminated soil and wants to grow all their own food the raised beds might be impractical. I haven’t tried planting the pole beans and peas in the tall beds yet. I’m not certain how I would manage to harvest my crop. I'll post more pictures when I figure out how to harvest the tall crops from a tall bed.