Raised Bed

There are square, rectangular, and round raised beds. You also do not have to grow vegetables in the ground. If you have an acre of ground to plant in, there's nothing out there anywhere that says a veggie garden will only be successful.

You don't have to have land the size of Green Acres to garden successfully. You know what I mean-- land stretching out for days.

Raised Bed Gardening and the New Homeowner

Let's say you've got clay soil like I do here in Tidewater Virginia. Build some raised beds and filled them with a mix of garden soil, compost and something to lighten it up-- vermiculite, perlite, peat moss, or even some sand.

Now, I'm not a tool belt diva. I had the rudimentary tools-- hammer, two screwdrivers, and a ratchet set. Hey, how hard can it be to nail four boards together to form a four foot by four foot garden box?

Raised Bed

I grew lots of things in those the container : tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, oregano, squash, beans, dill, basil, eggplant, spinach, musk melon (small cantaloupe), scallions, and fennel.
It's astonishing how much could grow in a small garden. I also did it with the help of vertical gardening using trellises.

One of the things you want to avoid in a container gardening is heavy soil density. It's like trying to grow plants in wet concrete. The lighter and fluffier it is the easier it will be for plants' roots to grow.

The only exceptions would be really large-scale shrubs like hydrangeas and azaleas or trees. You could probably plant dwarf trees in them. If you want to grow larger scale veggies like squash, zucchini, melon, or watermelon, you'll probably need most of one end of the raised bed for them to sprawl out in.

Harder than I thought.

I bought some plants and some seed packets. I spent between $30 and $35 for everything.
I learned about raised bed gardening from watching garden shows on TV including Mel Bartholomew's TV show on PBS, "Square Foot Gardening".

I either needed someone to hold the lumber while I nailed or needed clamps or a vise. I discovered this after boards came loose and I had littered the air with blue words.

One of the greatest advantages to raised bed gardening is that you control the soil content.

Let me tell you about my first house and the very first square foot garden I 'd ever tended on my own. It was 1991 and I 'd just closed on a townhouse in Marlton, New Jersey. It had fenced backyard but the previous owner's dog had really it ripped up.

In the end, I got enough nails into the lumber to hold it together (I'm sure my neighbors had a good laugh watching me do this). The pressure of the garden soil also helped keep the shape of the raised bed garden box together.

Don't have to be works of art-- they don't have to be structurally sound or be able to withstand a 7.3 earthquake. They just have to hold soil.

For those of you not familiar with the size and dimensions of lumber, the one is the thickness and the 12 is the width. I asked the lumber yard to cut these pieces 4 feet long for two 4x4 square raised beds.

If you have a bad back or you have avoided gardening because you don't want to look like one of those pieces of bent over garden art-- you know the ones, women with fat butts in bloomers-- build your garden beds higher.

Not me, boy. The day after closing I went to the home center and had them cut eight 1x12 pieces of lumber.

Now, lots of women may have focused on things like window treatments or furniture.

You can stack your raised beds on top of each other. Just make sure to anchor the boxes together so that the top box doesn't slip off the bottom. Or you could get wider pieces of lumber to make them higher.

Every once in awhile, I'll combine garden soil with potting mix because the potting mix already has some perlite in it and this tends to be a lighter, fluffier soil.

After that, I went over to the garden center and picked up eight bags of garden soil. Why eight? 'Cuz I had no clue as to how much I 'd need.

I personally use Miracle-Gro products-- I like their water retention mix. Most of their soils have plant food already mixed in and you can buy garden soil, topsoil, and/or potting mix.

Garden Versatility with Raised Bed Gardening

Cultivating soil in a traditional row garden takes time. Using raised beds allows you to garden instantly.

The point here is when putting a soil on a hard surface like concrete, give the plant's roots some air. Make these beds a bit deeper by making the sides of the bed higher-- that allows for plenty of plant growth.

And you don't have to put to raised beds on dirt or grass. You can place them on a deck or patio. If you do that, I 'd either put some kind of bottom on the raised bed box or even set them on pallets (you can sometimes get old pallets from grocery stores for next to nothing).

Build some raised beds and filled them with a mix of garden soil, compost and something to lighten it up-- vermiculite, perlite, peat moss, or even some sand. Using it allows you to garden instantly.

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