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Gardens reach new heights

Special contributor

Is it possible to grow tomatoes, peppers, chard, basil, and green beans in a narrow, graveled alley behind a Main Street shop?

Pam Lamborn of Jack Rabbit Hollow, Peabody, thought it couldn’t be done.

However, using a combination of raised-bed and vertical gardening and an afternoon of labor, Leroy Wetta changed her mind. Now Lamborn’s garden is thriving, but it is modest compared to the 68 feet of raised beds and vertical trellises in Wetta’s backyard garden.

Wetta began using raised beds in 2006 and vertical trellises in 2007. Also known as “intensive gardening,” the goal of raised-bed and vertical gardening is to harvest the most produce from a given space. Other benefits include fewer weeds and less moisture loss because of close spacing of plants.

“I haven’t used a hoe in three years,” Wetta said.

The initial investment in raised-bed and vertical gardening includes wood for frames and trellises and enriched soil to fill the beds, as well as a network of hoses and a reliable water source.

Wetta used wood salvaged from a demolished barn and soil scraped from local farmers’ sheep pens and cattle yards.

Done thoughtfully, this type of gardening can be as affordable as a traditional in-ground plot.

Wetta has 238 square feet of raised beds and more than a dozen interconnected trellises. This arrangement is producing strawberries, blackberries, peas, lettuce, spinach, chard, green beans, pole beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash.

In addition to feeding his family, Wetta has sold produce at Doyle Creek Farmers’ Market every Saturday since Memorial Day.

For more information on raised-bed and vertical gardening, contact Marion County Extension Office at (620) 382-2325 or stop by Wetta’s table at the farmers’ market and get all the details straight from the gardener’s mouth.

Last modified June 24, 2009

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