What Should I Plant in my Raised Garden Beds? Excellent Question!!

Filed under :Gardening - producing your own food, Raised Bed Gardening

Isn’t this garden awesome?  I found this at http://www.thegardenglove.com/raised-vegetable-garden-beds/  I love the way they’ve used pavers set in sand (so rain water can still seep thru to and into the ground) to eliminate having to mow grass between the beds.

So what’s next after you’ve built your raised vegetable garden?  What are you doing to plant?  If you’re like me, you’ll spend hours deciding what is going where.  And there’s so many other things you’ll need to consider as well.  Let’s talk about it.

First – you really need to consider what time of the year that you’ll be ready to plant.  Is it early Spring, late Spring, early Summer, etc.  Why is this important?  Well, different vegetables grow better during different seasons.  So you’ll want to familiarize yourself with this information.

Second – what produce do you or your family eat?   While turnip greens might seem like they would be easy and fast to grow, does you or your family eat them?    Only plan on growing what you know your family will consume.  If you’re not into broccoli, then don’t waste the space growing it.

Third – What grows well in your gardening zone?  For example, vegetables with very long mature dates do not grow well in northern zones due to the shorter growing season.

Fourth – How many plants of each vegetable do you really need?   If you rarely eat lettuce, maybe you only need a couple of plants compared to someone who loves to eat salads everyday that would need a bed full of lettuce plants.

Fifth – When you harvest your first planting of radishes, what are you going to “succession plant” in the vacant space?

Sixth – Are you going to “direct seed” or use transplants (seedlings)?  If you are going to use seedlings, are you going to purchase them or grow them yourself from seed?

I hope these questions help to lead you in the right direction with your plantings in your new raised garden beds.  I will continue to write more posts about gardening and growing your own fresh produce.


SOIL for Your Raised Bed Vegetable Garden – An Easy HOW-TO Guide

Filed under :Gardening - producing your own food, Raised Bed Gardening

Usually with a raised bed vegetable garden, the soil will require a little investment.  It’s one of those things that you are not going to want to ”skimp” on.  You’re going to want to make sure you get started off on the right foot.  When talking about soil, you are going to want to make sure that you’re starting off with “sterile” soil – that is soil that is free from bugs and weed/grass seeds.    And it’s really easy to do.  I’m going to show you two ways to get started with getting soil for your raised bed vegetable garden –

  1. #1 the first method will be fast, simple, and easy but will require some $ investment on your part
  2. #2 the second method will be slower, still simple and easy but will require little to no $ investment on your part

So let’s start with method #1.  If you are starting off with a small vegetable garden and would like to get your seeds and/or plants into the ground and growing as soon as possible, I highly recommend a couple of different methods that will get your garden started off on the right foot.  Each of these methods will require some $ investment – one a little more than the other – but you’ll be able to immediately get your seeds and plants in the ground and be assured of clean, sterile and high soil that you will only need to “amend” to continue gardening in the future.

I recommend purchasing Miracle-Gro® All Purpose Garden Soil to fill your raised bed if you have a small raised bed.  This soil is sterile and ready to go.  Each time you harvest and then “re-plant”, you will need to amend the soil by adding a scoop of organic compost where you are going to plant the seed or vegetable seedling.  Each of the large bags contain 2 cubic feet of soil – this will cover an area 2 ft wide x 2 ft long x 6 inches deep.   So, if you had a 4′x4′ raised bed, you would need 4 bags to fill your garden (if your intended depth is 6 inches of soil).  If you use this method of filling your raised bed with soil, you will start with a good, sterile and enriched soil that will just require organic compost amendments in the future.  Miracle-Gro also makes a “raised bed” garden soil as well – but I haven’t seen that around the area that I live in.

My second recommendation would be to create your garden soil by using a mixture of vermiculite, cow manure and mushroom compost, and sphagnum peat moss (recipe is 1/3 by volume of each material).   This involves a little more time to acquire all the materials and mix them before filling your garden bed.   But once again, you’ll be starting with a sterile soil that is rich in nutrients to grow your vegetables.   As with the 1st recommendation above, you’ll need to continue to amend the soil with compost each time you replant.

Now on to method #2.  This method will take a good deal longer to achieve but you’ll  be able to use items that you normally throw away to create amazing soil for your garden.  Create a composite bin from old pallets.  Fill your compost bin with “browns” and “greens”.   Browns are typically your carbon type materials like fallens leaves, cardboard, etc.  Greens are items like vegetable scraps, green lawn clippings, coffee grounds, etc.  You want to achieve a ratio of 1:1 browns to greens.  It will take several months for your compost pile to heat up and transform into rich soil.  So if you have some time to plan, then you can actually create your own garden soil to fill your vegetable beds.

After filling your raised vegetable beds with soil, you’ll want to provide some type of “mulch” to cover the soil.  This will help to hold the moisture in the soil (due to evaporation) and keep your soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.  Another reason I prefer to mulch my raised beds is to keep the soil from splashing on the underside leaves of my vegetable plants when I water or when it rains.

There are also other methods of filling your raised garden bed with soil – i.e. lasagna gardening, etc.  I’d love to hear from your – what have you used to build your garden soil in your raised beds?


Frugal Gardening Tips! Building A Raised Bed with FREE Materials

Filed under :Gardening - producing your own food, Raised Bed Gardening

How do you even get started?  Well, that is a great question and we’re going to talk about some ideas that will help!  First, a raised bed?  What is a “raised bed” garden?    When we talk about a raised bed method of gardening, it means that we are gardening above the normal level of the soil in some sort of container.  The container can be wooden, plastic or made from some other material.   The soil that you are growing in, is contained and raised to prevent soil erosion and to promote good drainage.  Your garden area is separate from the rest of your yard.

The raised bed also help to make it a little easier to stoop over or bend over when you are maintaining your garden or harvesting from garden.  It helps to keep weeds out as well because you have concentrated all of your garden area into one space that you will mulch.  Also, when you are mowing, the raised bed helps to keep grass seed from being blown in.

I highly recommend the raised bed method over the traditional “row” garden method.  But let’s get back to the “how do I get started” question.  Building your 1st raised bed is easy and can cost you nearly nothing at all.  Materials can be unused items you may already have or even free items that are easily obtainable.  I suggest that before you invest a lot of time and money into purchasing materials to build a raised bed, or purchasing a pre-made raised garden, first make a bed out of “FREE” materials and see if raised bed gardening is something that you are really interested in.

First, let’s go back to the definition of a raised bed.  A raised bed is basically a “container” that you build that is higher than the normal soil level.  The two things that we are going to discuss in this post is what materials you’ll need to build the “container” (the raised bed frame) and what materials (soil) you’ll need to fill the “container”.  In this post, we are going to address the actual garden “container” materials – what you can build your garden from.  And more specifically, what FREE materials you can use that make excellent raised beds.  In the next post, we’ll discuss what to use as soil to fill your raised bed.

Raised bed container materials — as I mentioned above, you may already have the materials that you’ll need to build the “container” in your shed!  Or it maybe that you can easily and cheaply obtain items that you can use.  Raised beds can be constructed from many different items – here’s a list of suggestions from raised beds that I’ve seen:

There are so many different options and it really just depends on your preferences or what items you may have available. I’ve tried to give you some inspiration in the ideas and photos above.   Be creative!!

 


The ULTIMATE Money Saver (and Health Too) — Grow A Garden!

Filed under :Gardening - producing your own food

Yes, it’s that time of the year when we need to start planning for spring!

One of the best ways to save on your grocery bill is to grow your own food.  You would be surprised just how much money you can save even with just a small 4′ x 4′ raised bed.   And you can be very frugal with the costs of gardening as well.  Let’s start with some frugal gardening tips that are sure to not only help with your initial costs for setup with your garden, but will help you long-term to provide amazing vegetables for your family and save you on your food bill.

I’ve researched many different “methods” of gardening over the years and I’d like to share my thoughts with you on what I’ve found that works and what doesn’t work.  Far too often, people set out to construct a garden that will feed their entire family the first year.  The garden is usually way to large in size and no one has given any thought to the amount of time and energy it will take to maintain.  That usually results in the person failing at their gardening attempt and just giving up to the weeds.  I would like to show you what will work and how you can be successful with your own vegetable garden.

First, the traditional “row” method is very labor intensive and time consuming.  I’ve found several major flaws with the row method that eventually leads to the home garden abandoning their garden.

  • Weeds – with traditional row gardening, there is weeding that must be done routinely.  This can take a good deal of time and energy.  Many gardeners call it quits.
  • Soil erosion – you work so hard to build your soil so that it’s rich and full of the nutrients your vegetable plants need.  One rain can wash all of that hard work away and leave the gardener walking around in a mud hole.
  • Space – so much of your garden space in traditional row gardening is dedicated to your walking paths and not to growing your vegetables.  That’s more space that the garden has to maintain and weed regularly.  And the gardener ends up with a garden which is larger than really needed.

What type of garden do I recommend?  The raised bed system.  It is probably the easiest method that I’ve found and it’s the most productive method.  With proper mulching, weeds are easy to keep at bay.  Weeding is probably the number one reason that people abandon their gardens.  Weeding is very laborious and time consuming – and not something you can do with a bad back.  With a heavy rain, the amazing top soil that you’ve worked so hard on isn’t all washed away.  You can intensively garden in a much smaller and compact space and that will ultimately save you time.   I suggest that if you are interested in starting a garden to grow food to feed your family, please research the raised bed method.  I will write another post on building your raised bed garden for LITTLE OR NO COST.

If you live in an apartment or in an area that is prohibited for you to install a vegetable garden, you may want to consider what you can do with “container” gardening.  I’ll write a post on this at a later time.

Yesterday, I headed over to the Dollar Tree to do a little shopping and I was pleasantly surprised to see that even the Dollar Tree (where everything is $1) had their gardening items stocked.   The seeds were 4 packets for $1 and plastic gardening pots were only $1.

Do you grow a vegetable garden?