- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Sara Gibbs of Elk Creek has had raised beds for her garden for at least 10 years. She moved to her farm in 1995.
“I’ve always gardened,” said Gibbs.
Gibbs is a chef. When she worked at a cafe in Middletown, she grew most of the vegetables she used at the restaurant. She soon realized that she had to change her style of gardening to make it more manageable.
She laid out the design of her garden on graph paper. When she was satisfied with the arrangement, she built her raised beds with a fence around them. She had three 8’ x 8’ beds and the rest of her beds were 4’ x 8’.
“I didn’t want chemicals leaching into the soil,” said Gibbs. So she used pine boards instead of railroad ties or treated lumber. The pine ended up rotting, though. “I had to make a decision,” she said. “I had a concrete company come and make concrete beds.”
She had the concrete stained so that it looks like wood. Only by looking up close can one tell it actually isn’t wood.
The pathways in Gibbs’ garden started as cedar sawdust. Her garden is on a hill and when it rained the water would cause everything to wash downhill.
“I lost a lot of mulch,” said Gibbs, “and the water caused the boards to come apart – the screws popped out.”
Gibbs wanted a bed big enough for corn, so she made sure to include some 8’ x 8’ lots. Her middle bed is herbs and ornamentals. She rotates corn and beans in her other 8’ x 8’ bed.
Now Gibbs has grass on her pathways and mows them. She has landscape fabric between the beds.
“It’s not organic, but I try not to spray,” said Gibbs. “I just use regular dirt, but I amend it with compost and leaves,” she said, noting that she needs to water them often. “They’re quick to lose their water.”
She also amends the soil with composted manure and bagged topsoil. For mulch, she uses newspapers and straw because they will decompose and amend the soil.
This year, Gibbs is growing tomatoes, Mexican peppers, gourmet potatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, and several other vegetables.
“It’s varied over the years,” said Gibbs, who is now a chef at a Kentucky distillery. “I always try to grow what I can use as a chef.”
She uses much of her produce at the distillery and for her personal chef clients. She is also growing flowers that the distillery buys from her for their catering events.
Gibbs recommends raised beds especially for new gardeners and families.
“I think starting out with one raised bed is a good way to start,” said Gibbs. “It’s a good thing to do with kids because it’s contained and isn’t so massive and overwhelming.”
Gibbs is not sure if she gets a better yield from her raised beds than she did from her traditional garden because her new garden is so different than her old one.
“It’s hard to equate the two,” she said. “For me, it’s manageable. At this point in the year, it [gardening] starts to really get at you and it’s not fun. This is still fun.”