Appalachia COVID-19 Gardening

First Terrace Bed Built!

raised bed on bank

Over the weekend we managed to build our first raised bed on the bank behind the house.


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The Deer Hunter used trees out of the woods for the the sides and front. By sharpening the ends on some of the lengths he was able to use them as stakes to help stabilize the structure.

We were afraid we wouldn’t have enough dirt on hand to fill the bed completely.

Remember the mushroom logs we had a several years back? A lot of the lower logs have almost completely rotted away. I had the idea to get the rotting logs and add them to the bottom of the new bed.

While The Deer Hunter finished up the sides the girls and I carried mushroom logs to the bed and broke them into small pieces.

The Deer Hunter raked dirt from above the bed and the girls and I gathered leaves and dirt from the woods. Before we knew it we had the whole thing filled.

I’ve had one tame blackberry for about ten years. It’s been in a shaded area and never has produced more than a handful of berries each year. I recently acquired three more tame blackberries so we decided to use the bed for all the blackberries. Since the bank gets full sun I believe they will do well.

It took an entire day to build the one bed. Of course the work was hardest on The Deer Hunter who cut the trees. Even with all the work it turned out so well that we’re anxious to build more beds and add steps for easier access.


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  • Reply
    April 11, 2020 at 9:26 am

    Good job! I’m big on terracing and raised beds and try to add a little more every year, but gosh the very reason I need them is the reason they are hard to build – combination of aching joints and poor, stony soil. Still, I’m planning more this year 🙂

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 10, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    The Hanging Gardens of Brasstown?

    • Reply
      April 10, 2020 at 7:04 pm

      Ed-the hanging gardens…I like it 🙂

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 10, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    I hope a heavy rain don’t fill up your bed faster than it can drain out and cause it to slide off the bank. It looks like it’s anchored pretty good but water is very heavy.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 10, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    I remember the Mushroom bed you all made several years ago, I had never of such a thing, but it works. I ain’t never had a use for Mushrooms, matter of fact, when I get a Pizza, I remove them.

    Back before I hurt my Back, I picked Wild Blackberries and canned ’em. Anymore, I just Freeze them. I still got about 15 or so Packs, for making Blackberry Cobblers. That is my Favorite, that and Peaches. Like Pap, I’m from the Old School. …Ken

  • Reply
    Sue McIntyre
    April 10, 2020 at 11:48 am

    Great job, to you all! Using what you have has always been a way of life for many like us. Back in the ’80s, Daddy finally built Moma the flower bed she had been wanting for a while . I was in charge of adding the soil, planting the tulip bulbs, and carefully digging up and transplanting the irises, or flags. All done, we impatiently waited for spring. Tulip stalks, and irises, sprang up right away, but nothing ever bloomed. Maybe next year… Year after year, we were met with the same disappointment. I eventually dug up some of the tulips and flags and half heartedly replanted them close to the kitchen door. They seemed very happy there and bloomed for several years. Time has passed, and so did Moma. My neice now lives in the old home place. She has redone the house, and had the yard landscaped. Those old cedar trees and the flower bed between them were the first things to go. The old home place looks wonderful, she did a great job. Early this spring I passed by and what do you think greeted me? Where that old flower bed had been nestled between two cedar trees were several random tulips. Holding their beautiful heads high as if to say I was here all along. Moma got her tulips. God is like that, we may not see Him in everything we say or do, but He is there just waiting to share His beauty and blessings. Hope all stay safe and well. I will be looking for pictures of those sweet, juicy berries.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    April 10, 2020 at 11:17 am

    At a number of old home sites in the Smokies, you’ll find multiple terraces with rocks piled at the lower end.

    Pearl Cable told me that her family would gather rocks and lay a course across the hollow. Over time, from the combination of erosion and drift from turning the soil, the soil level would reach the top of the rock wall. So they’d lay another course of rocks and the cycle would be repeated. Here’s a link to a photo I took at the Nathan Pilkington place.

    That’s a pretty impressive terrace, don’t you think? Here’s another one at the John Pilkington place:

    I’ve seen the same thing practiced throughout the Swain County portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – soil conservation at its finest.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    April 10, 2020 at 10:44 am

    I love the terrace bed. It reminded me of Korea where every hill is terraced because land is so scarce. I applaud your family in using your energy for good work. The exercise helps keep you healthy.

    Leaves are a gold mine for beds. I have built beds in my garden and my daughter’s garden because it has been so wet in the past years. The village brings me leaves every year. This year I think it was 30 dump truck loads of mostly shredded leaves. I mix year old leaves and dirt 50 50 and have the best soil ever. My estimate is 1 foot of leaves equals 3 inches of soil.

    I started my blackberries with 5 plants and now have a 50′ bed. when you have a bumper year, you will have more than you can use.

  • Reply
    April 10, 2020 at 9:19 am

    That blackberry bush will get the sun it needs and produce so many sprouts that you will have to keep building beds. I had never heard them called terrace beds. When I read your title, I thought you all had built some kind of fancy bed to sleep in. Now I know!

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    April 10, 2020 at 8:54 am

    You all have been busy. Hard work pays off. Yes, blackberries love the sun. Good luck with them.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 10, 2020 at 8:50 am

    Recycling! That is the good part of plant materials, they just keep on being useful. I blow leaves and rake sticks down to several piles in the fall and winter. Then in spring I mine the bottom of the piles and haul the black dirt back up the hill. Kinda comical in a way.

    Sounds like you have a good plan. One good thing about blackberries is they will fill up the bed themselves so you all will get all the good out of the hard work. If you have any stonecrop around it would love to grow in the cracks between the poles. Or maybe creeping rosemary or strawberry.

    You all have the same problem I do about getting enough sun. It is a Chinese puzzle here to match plants to the amount of sun. I have had a lot of failures but some successes to.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 10, 2020 at 8:04 am

    I saw part of the building process and Yes, it was a lot of work but now I can envision beds all across the bank full of delicious things. What will you put in the next bed? Those trees the Deer Hunter cut looked like they were about 30 feet tall…yep, lots of hard work!

  • Reply
    April 10, 2020 at 7:54 am

    I am truly impressed. I had forgotten how blackberries and raspberries spread into a thicket. I planted a raspberry bush, and in no time at all there were many taking over around my shed. Fortunately, my cousins wanted some and agreed to dig them and take home with him. Had I had a wonderful contained bed like that my project may have worked out. I am moved by how your family works together so cohesively, and that Deerhunter sure is a keeper.

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