We’ve loved the huge harvest of strawberries we had all spring and summer. That bed of strawberries really produces! Weekend breakfasts have never been so yummy.”– Jennifer and Tony, Hillsboro
Increasingly, consumers are awakening to the fact that we can no longer take for granted the safety of our food supply. Buying locally sourced, organic food makes more and more sense, especially if you purchase directly from farmers or from stores that stock locally grown food. But why not grow your own? That's the concept behind Verdura Culinary Gardens - helping people succeed in growing their own organic vegetables. Our goal is to help make it easy for you to produce the freshest, safest food possible.
What exactly is a culinary garden?
A Verdura culinary garden is made up of raised bed frames, compact and intensively planted, that takes much of the effort out of vegetable gardening. Our basic Ranch Style garden frame is a self-contained raised bed that you can build using cedar or other natural wood (please do NOT use pressure treated wood, which is impregnated with potentially toxic chemicals).
- Because the gardens are self-contained and sit on top of your existing soil, asphalt or other surface, it doesn’t matter what kind of soil you have.
- Planting and tending our vegetable gardens require no backbreaking tilling, digging, or weeding.
- Weeds and pests are easily controlled with natural materials and methods.
- Easy-to-install drip irrigation systems take the work - and guesswork - out of watering.
- Our year-round garden planting plans maximize companion planting and crop rotation techniques, increasing the overall health and output of the garden.
Why should I grow vegetables at home?
Food doesn’t get any more local, sustainable or fresh than when it comes out of your own back yard. With our intensive vegetable gardening system, you can grow enough organic vegetables to feed your entire family most of the year. And you can grow many heirloom vegetable varieties that often can’t be found in grocery stores or big box garden centers.
We’re lucky that farmers markets and upscale gourmet grocery stores are becoming more prevalent across the country. However, buying organic produce can be expensive, even without even taking into account the economic and environmental impact of frequent trips to the market. Growing your own vegetables at home is a fun, affordable, and green alternative that provides you with the freshest, highest-quality food available.
Although there are obviously expenses associated the first year with installing new raised beds, over time having a productive home garden can save you a considerable amount of money.
Many of the vegetables you eat have been trucked thousands of miles to reach your dinner table. When you factor in the health risks associated with genetically modified food (GMOs), salmonella, e-coli, and pesticides, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify the environmental, economic, and safety cost of trusting anonymous conventional farmers to provide vegetables for you. Growing your own organic garden with an emphasis on open-pollinated, heirloom vegetables significantly reduces concerns about food safety for your family.
Enhancing property values
Verdura’s raised bed garden frames and trellises are, in a word, gorgeous. Taking the time to properly install attractively designed gardens makes all the difference. They’re the one investment that can enhance your property’s value for the long term while feeding your family now.
What’s the advantage of growing in raised beds?
There's no question that it's cheaper to simply go outside and start digging, as opposed to building raised beds. So why bother? Here's why we do it:
- Raised beds are more accessible. The soil level is elevated 12" or more, meaning less bending and squatting - easier on your back and knees.
- The organic soil blend we use in our beds is much easier to work in than the native soil most of us have in our yards. Our blend is loose, friable and fertile, making it easy to work in and to grow beautiful carrots and other crops that typically struggle in clay or rocky soil. And because you never walk on it, it stays that way.
- Raised beds require no tilling and very little weeding. That loose soil makes it easy to do any necessary weeding.
- Utilizing trellises and intensive planting techniques makes raised beds incredibly productive. They're ideal for smaller backyards, patios and decks.
- The soil in raised beds warms up earlier and stays warm later than in-ground gardens, further extending the growing season. Add a cold frame and you can grow all year long.
- Verdura's raised beds are attractive and tidy - and easy to keep that way. They enhance property values while providing a bounty of homegrown food.
Do I need a lot of space with good soil?
No, you don’t! Verdura Culinary Gardens are compact (as small as 4' square) and very productive. They’re perfect for yards with limited space. And the soil blend mentioned below is ideally suited to raised bed gardening.
What you do need is sunlight. A healthy vegetable garden requires a minimum of six hours of direct light a day. You'll need to locate a sunny spot on your property, whether it’s in your front yard, back yard, parking strip, deck, or along the side of your house.
Our soil blend
We fill our beds with a mixture of equal parts of peat moss, compost and vermiculite or pumice, adding a bag of worm castings to each bed as well as a general purpose organic fertilizer (per label instructions). We add compost to the garden beds twice a year, early in the spring and then in the fall when doing our final cleanup before winter. Understand that one of the very qualities that makes raised beds attractive to grow in - soil that drains very well - also means that nutrients can drain out, so it's important to continue to amend your soil over time.
How large a garden does my family need?
Raised bed gardens utilizing square foot gardening techniques are intensively planted, taking up little space and providing surprisingly large crops of vegetables. A 4' square frame or container can provide 64 heads of lettuce or more than 40 pounds of heirloom tomatoes! Of course, you'll likely want to plant a more diverse mix of vegetables than that.
How large a garden you need depends upon the size of your family as well as what you’d like to grow. Do you want herbs? Just salad greens? Or are you aiming to grow as many of your own vegetables as possible? Do you plan to freeze or can some of your produce for the winter months or for gifts? Generally speaking, a residential 4' x 10' garden bed will provide a nice supply of vegetables for one adult nearly year-round. A family-sized garden of four of these beds will typically produce close to 400 pounds of food a year - more than enough to feed a household.