Last year we noticed two different things.
1) The adobes kept our plants warm way into January.
2) Our wood whiskey barrel planters retained water much better than any other planters.
With this in mind we created a garden bed that I’m using for herbs. Step 1 was to add some wood to help the garden hang onto moisture. We did this with used pallets made of plain pine. We also lined the garden area with adobe blocks (these are stabelized so they won’t melt in the rain), and used some extra forms left over from building outside of that. The result wasn’t pretty, but that would be fixed in step two.
The center boards were added in just in case we want to cover the herbs in the winter time to keep them growing when we have snow on the ground. We can look to get some hard, clear coverings over the garden that will still allow some room.
Also, the center boards allow support for any climbers we plant.
Once we had the shape of the garden done, we filled it with a later of good dirt, a layer of manure, and then more dirt on top. We also stacked rocks around the sides both to give it a better look and to add more thermal mass to keep the garden warm.
We got everything in place just in time for monsoon season–the rains have been lovely so far. We’re already seeing green sprouts pop up and with the extra warmth in the bed we should be able to have herbs until the dormant winter season. We’ll post an update about how well this does and what we see next year, too.
Cost of the whole project–about $10 for the seed packets (all non-GMO) from AmercianMeadows.com where we get a lot of our seeds. Next year we also plan to get some native Southwest seeds planted from NativeSeeds.org.