WASHINGTON — Christina in Silver Spring, Maryland, writes: “I’m going to build a couple of raised beds and am wondering how high to make them.
“I’d like to use stones for the frames. I’m planning to grow a variety of things and want to factor in a depth of soil that can accommodate just about anything. I just started listening a few weeks ago and am learning so much! Thanks!”
Well, thank you, Christina!
Raised beds framed with stone or pavers are an excellent idea. The stone doesn’t deteriorate like wood; and the stone absorbs heat from the sun during the day and radiates it back into the soil at night — a huge bonus for extending the season in the spring and fall.
All raised beds should be no more than 4 feet wide — so you can reach the center without ever stepping on their loose, light soil. (They can be as long as you like.)
Around a foot tall is the standard, although deeper is always better, especially if you plan to grow long-rooted crops, like full-length carrots.
Wash your deer woes away
Clemencia in Potomac, Maryland, writes: “Do you recommend Plantskydd to deter deer, evil squirrels and rabbits from eating ornamental plants and veggies? The deer especially drive me crazy. I had to fence in the garden area but want to grow some things in the rest of the yard (which has no fence). Will the activated sprinkler you always talk about scare away large deer? Even if they come in groups?”
Yes, Clemencia — a motion-activated sprinkler is the perfect deer deterrent. They’re naturally skittish animals, and their size makes them a large target for the unexpected blast of cold water that erupts when the sensor detects their movement. Some studies even suggest that deer chased frequently by a blast of noisy water will learn to avoid the area in the future.
But a motion-activated sprinkler can’t protect plants in the winter, when the water in the lines would freeze. That’s when you need protective cages or frequent applications of a spray-on deer repellent. You mention the repellent Plantskydd, which is dried blood, a slaughterhouse byproduct that creeps me out when I mix it with water. (It becomes a true “bucket of blood.”)
I prefer repellents that use rotten eggs (“putrescent egg solids”) as the active ingredient. They’re more effective and infinitely less creepy.
It’s tomato-planting time — maybe
Our ridiculously warm winter weather has many people asking if it’s safe to plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and such outside. The answer is yes, if you’re in the heat sink of the…