This spring, with Jill's help, I experimented with a new way of gardening: raised beds and an underground drip watering system called netafim.
The raised beds are around 8 inches high and are open at the bottom. They were designed by Jill so that none of them are quite square. (She has an artistic temperament and loves asymmetry.) Our friend Mark built the beds and did such a meticulous job of crafting and painting them we call them our "San Marino raised beds" (San Marino is the posh area of Pasadena).
The beds were filled with organic soil and are built so that you can sit on the edge and work the beds. This is easy on the knees.
Netafim is a drip system developed in Israel that makes it possible to water underground. The drip holes are designed so that roots won't penetrate and clog them. This system supposedly reduces water usage by 60%.
So far, the system is working amazingly well. Our plants love the organic soil and are thriving, as you can see. We are already harvesting lettuce, bok choi, kale, cabbage, and other greens. We've also had zucchini, string beans, onions, leeks and various herbs, such as basil. Tomatoes and corn are next!
Because much of the watering we do is underground, the top soil is dry and we've had very few weeds. The automatic system means we can go on vacation and not have to worry about the garden drying out and dying, as happened last summer.
This seems to be a very low maintenance garden, the best kind, in my opinion. I'll keep you posted on how this system fares in the heat of the summer, the acid test for California gardens.