I was able to get four raised beds cleaned up and ready for use on Friday.
In the bed at the far end of the garden I will plant alfalfa. My dad gave me the seeds and the insight into what alfalfa can be used for in the garden.
Alfalfa is a Legume, or green manure crop. It is a perennial crop that can be cut several times a year. Its leaves can be used as mulch and as a soil amendment. It adds nitrogen, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, boron, iron, and zinc to the garden. It is great for vegetable plants, and roses love it. The grass from it can be cut before it goes to seed and used as mulch. As the mulch decomposes it will continually add minerals to the soil. This is an inexpensive, and organic way to add nutrients to your soil, so I am devoting one bed to the production of alfalfa.
The next bed in this line will be devoted to a perennial bed of lemon balm. Lemon balm repels mosquitos when rubbed on your skin and prevents the need for toxic sprays. It is thought to have anti-bacterial and antiviral properties when used as an herbal tea. It is considered to be a calming agent and can therefore reduce stress. It has been shown to improve mood and mental performance and can be used to flavor ice cream, teas, fish, and can be made into pesto. The one warning for lemon balm is that if you take thyroid hormone, as I do, you have to be very careful to limit your intake. Although not throughly studied at this time, it is thought that lemon balm may prevent proper absorption of your thyroid medication.
My third bed is planted in loose leaf lettuce over half the bed. I plan to grow renegade spinach over the other half. Renegade Spinach can withstand summer’s heat better than other spinach. This creates a salad bed.
The last bed in this line-up will be planted with tomatoes and basil. Basil helps keep pests off the tomatoes. They are considered companion plants and each one grows better when planted together. From the last two beds, I can make a really good salad.
So there you have it. If you use your garden resources wisely they can work for you, reducing costs, and providing healthier alternatives.