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Dr. Monique Mazza’s Raised Beds at Earthaven Ecovillage

Hi all! This is Dr Monique Mazza from our home in Earthaven Ecovillage and I’m inviting you today to talk about our raised beds. These are  three or four raised beds that we have here.

Why do we have raised beds instead of planting right in the ground?

Well there’s several benefits. For the main reason, for us here in this setting, is because there are a lot of vole creatures. Voles and moles who like to burrow underneath. They’ll take the plant roots out so destroying the growth. So by creating a raised bed we have a secure environment these raised beds are lined with hardware cloth underneath at the bottom. So it’s an impermeable layer it allows drainage. It’s not plastic; it allows drainage of fluids and passage of roots but creatures can’t get up from it. So we’ve created little greenhouses here over the winter. This thick plastic has been been covering these collards that have been lovely and vibrant. Then we have a really nice crop of chickweed which is a highly mineral dense plant that’s great to eat as a spring tonic.

Raised beds hold a lot of moisture. So it’s a really great way to grow if you’re not into watering so much. The compactness of the soil holds a lot of moisture we have a drip system in place  on this bed that I’ll show you.

This is a bed where we’re demonstrating the use of shade cloth and usually we’ll put lettuces or something in here that likes to be a little cooler; spinach and lettuce in particular. This is kind of a cinching system that works that just kind of brings it up when you’re ready to harvest or plant. There’s a series of ropes here that just holds it up.

We have our three layers of three layers of drip tape here. You can see there’s a main line that comes in the bottom and then each bed is fed with a pipe off of a stand pipe further away. We could turn each bed on or off individually. That then leads into three little drip tapes that go down the entire bed so it is a slow way to irrigate with more penetration down into the soil. It keeps it more evenly irrigated.

This last bed we’ve had this great cover crop of clover growing all year. We like to keep them green and growing with something so that the earth is never bare. That keeps all of the healthy soil organisms alive all year. So, either cover crop or in this case we’ve just used chopped leaves to keep the beds warm.

Another benefit of having raised beds is if you’re in an environment that has had bad soil below, say clay soil, or a lot of rocky soil, or even an area where they may not have been using organic practices and you’re concerned about that, putting up a raised bed is pretty simple. So you can create your environment of brand new soil fill with your organic amendments your compost or healthy soil. Then you’re starting on top and you’re likely only growing vegetables that are going to create root system in the top six inches, eight inches, 12 inches max. Usually a raised bed is about 12 inches from the ground and the roots are only going to be exposed to the soil that you choose to put in there.  So it’s a great way to just start from scratch if the ground below is questionable.

Another benefit – it’s an opportunity to use materials that may be lying around. Most of this is just scrap wood that we found – pieces of sheet metal. If you look on the inside you can see this is old roofing material on one side and old sheet metal on the other side and it looks great. It’s really durable it allows the soil and water to be held in place so that’s one of the reasons why they’re so likely to retain moisture.

And, as you get older, it’s sort of easier to garden. You sit here; it’s a nice place to sit- and do your weeding. It gives you a little bit of a built-in bench.

So many benefits of raised beds. You can paint them the color you want. I hope that you all are inspired and make your own! Thanks for joining us!

Dr. Monique Mazza, Garden, Irrigation, Moles, raised beds, Voles


Courtney Brooke

Courtney Brooke (she/her) is a Social Ecologist, Regenerative Designer, and educator whose work aims to reconnect people with a sense of belonging to place. Her work in the world aims to address the root cause of today’s overwhelming ecological challenges – that humans are starved of a sense of belonging to the places they live. Courtney Brooke was raised on a small farm in North Georgia, and has been guided by a lifetime of living close to the land. Her greatest teachers have been the Appalachian Mountains, the land of Aotearoa, and Selu, the Corn Mother. She holds a degree in Ecology from the Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, and has 10 years of experience facilitating earth-based education, ecological landscape design, women’s rites of passage, and cultural healing. Courtney Brooke has taught and facilitated environmental education curriculum, Deep Ecology, Permaculture Design Courses, hands-on craft and farming workshops, and Holistic Management to a wide range of audiences in nine countries from toddlers to adults and everyone in between. Deeply committed to spreading the healing that comes from belonging to the places we live, Courtney Brooke is passionate about designing learning opportunities that celebrate life. She lives at Earthaven Ecovillage where she tends the land, raises food, participates in communal ritual agriculture, swims in wild water, enjoys the mysterious blessing of being alive, and tends her own wild Hearth. She loves cooking home-grown and wild foraged foods, playing her flute to the sunrise, running on mountain trails, making compost piles, crafting from natural materials, and bringing people together to create beauty that feeds the holy.

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