Fun Fact of the Day: Sea anemones benefit from clownfish who clean them by eating its parasites and dead tentacles, help circulate the water around them, attract potential prey with their bright colors, and provide nutrients from their droppings.
I have been contemplating making raised beds for my garden for some time now.
You can use wood, rocks, or concrete blocks to construct your beds. Last year, I tore down a garage on an extra lot I own. I have over 270 cinder blocks piled up. I will be using these.
Typically a bed is 3 to 4 feet wide in any shape or length. The height ranges from 6 to 24 inches. The only truly important thing is the width. You want it wide enough to be able to reach into the middle and not put too much strain on your back.
Since I will be using cinder blocks, my beds will be either 8″ or 16″ tall. I am not sure yet if I will have one or two layers. It really depends on how big I make the garden. Traditionally, I have a 20’x40′ garden.
It may take me some time to get the beds and the walk ways built, but the benefits of having the raised beds is very enticing.
1) Time and Labor
After the initial set up of the beds and walk ways, most of the labor intensive work would be complete. There would be no more tilling up the whole garden to get it prepped for the growing season. I could take a hoe, pitchfork, or my favorite tool, The Claw and flip the dirt by hand.
2) Weed Control
This can be done in many different ways. Before planting, a weed barrier can be laid down and holes cut in where the plants will go. Also, if the plants are placed properly, when they reach maturity, they will form a canopy to inhibit weed growth. Finally, with the beds at a more reasonable height, weeding is much easier.
3) Pest Control
Rabbits, gophers, and moles are just a few of the critters who enjoy a garden as much as we do. Its a free farmers market for them. For the borers, if you lay chicken wire down during construction of the bed, an effective barrier is laid and they cannot come up. For the rabbits, a mini fence combined with the height of the beds, should keep them out.
Amending the soil can take years to accomplish. With a raised bed, this can be done with a few bags of peat, manure, and gardening soil. Water drainage and retention is easier to manage. The best benefit, the soil does not get trampled down by feet, keeping it loose for roots to take hold and grow.
5) Higher Yields
With loose, better soil, the plants produce more vegetables. Need I say more.
6) Earlier and Longer Growing Season
Since the beds are above the ground, they have a tendency to warm up faster than the regular lawn. This allows the plants to go in earlier. With a little ingenuity, a temporary green house can be made for the colder months in the beginning and the end of the year.
A raised bed can add beauty to your lawn with its neat manicured look. The clean rows and boxed look of the beds can make a drab corner of your yard more appealing.
The higher yields are the main reason I wish to put in raised beds. I love to eat. I love to eat fresh vegetables. The first time I grew potatoes and baked them, I knew, I would never buy potatoes in the store again. Never in my life had I eaten such a flavorful potato. And don’t get me started on the cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchinis, radishes, lettuce, and ….. Who am I kidding, this list could go on and on.
There is no comparison to freshly grown vegetables. Don’t even try it. Plant a garden and you will find out what I mean.
Single digits with 20 m.p.h. winds.
How do you go for a run in this weather?
Simple. You dress for it and hit the trails.
How do you dress for this weather?
Long underwear, wool socks, t-shirt, shorts, hat and gloves, and a good wind breaker. And in this weather, I do switch over to running shoes. Most importantly, MUSIC.
I will spend hundreds of dollars on my foot attire, but I have found that a regular pair of Hanes long underwear work fine. The best lesson I have learned is to dress in layers, not expensively.
I say most importantly, because music will take your mind off the fact you are freezing your butt off. That is until your body temperature rises. Also, it helps regulate your breathing.
Are there any benefits to running in the cold? Of course there are.
1) You Don’t get Hot
Because of the cooler weather, your are less likely to overheat. Your body readily releases any excess heat that builds up. To maintain a constant body temperature, you need layer of moisture wicking clothing.
2) It Helps Keep off the Winter Weight
Maintaining your routine tricks the body into switching your metabolism over to the store up for winter mode. Also the added benefit of not having to stress over getting ready for “swimsuit season”.
3) It Helps from Getting the Winter Blues.
Everyone hears about the down side of winter. Being cooped up inside all day, away from the sun and fresh air makes many people depressed. Getting out in the brisk air and running, helps release endorphins and keeps you motivated. For someone like me, who switches over to running during the day, I still get time in the sun. When its out of course.
4) Mental and Physical Endurance
Your stamina is increased thanks to the increase of blood circulation. Your body will adapt to the adverse conditions. It will become more hardy. Getting out in the cold is a trial all in itself. Running everyday in the winter, will help to push you to get in that extra mile, or finish the race a few minutes quicker.
When your friends are sitting at home complaining about the cold, snow, and extra weight they’ve put on since they’ve locked themselves inside, you will be bouncing around with the extra energy your daily runs have given you.
So when you feel depressed because of the cold, don’t fret, a little run can turn that frown upside down.