It may not be too late to start a family garden- the 4 X 4 way. it’s easy to put together, care for, and makes for a great family project. Read more about how to build the garden plus two links to helpful growers’ websites:
Before building your 4 X 4 raised bed think about what you want to grow in it. This post is all about growing winter salad greens therefore the design and location are all-important.
DESIGN: You have several options for designs, Of course they are all 4 feet wide and 4 feet long but you may want to make it 6 inches to 16 inches high depending on what you want to grow. Low lying winter greens like chick weed and leaf lettuce can do fine in 6 to 8 inch sideboards while chard, collards and kale require taller sides if the box is to be covered with flat window panels. If covering it with arched hoops and plastic, the frame can be 6 to 8 inches tall.
MATERIAL. Any wood scraps will work as long as the wood is untreated with chemicals. Cedar lasts longer but is expensive. Plywood deteriorates rather quickly but will at least get you started.
LOCATION: Find an area in our yard that gets at least 6 to 7 hours of sunlight during your growing season (which may last through December) Plant started plants if you want to shorten the growing season. Placing the frame near a clothes dryer vent or proteted from the wind, will stay warmer as the weather turns chilly.
GROWING MEDIUM; Most sources will recommend convenient but expensive bags containing 1/3 garden loam. 1/3 compost and 1/3 Vermiculite. But in the Pacific Northwest, frugal gardeners simply haul a yard of 3:1 mix which is a combination of soil. mulch and sand. 4:1 is also available with composted mushrooms or manure added;
PREPARATION: Before putting the frame in place, it is best to turn the ground soil over (or at least puncture the ground to aid drainage) and cover the ground with landscape cloth to help control the weeds’
Late Fall & early winter plants that do fairly well in Pacific Northwest include: spinach, kale, chard, chick weed, leaf lettuce, miner’s lettuce, parsley and some root crops like carrots and radish if planted early enough.
To learn more about building the raised bed, visit Bonnie Plants.
For growing seasons and which plants to cultivate for winter crops see Mother Earth News a well respected and extensive website.
If this is a family project we recommend you go a step further and subscribe to the Mother Earth News magazine. As a retired classroom teacher I learned long go that kids can learn a great deal by reading hand-held printed material, turning pages to examine pictures, underlining key ideas, and cutting out articles for a scrapbook. Search engines make researching too easy and there is no guarantee that the author is credible.
Just food for thought… donR