Tag Archives: raised bed

summer garden raised bed

Building Good Soil in a Raised Garden Bed

pine wood raised bed
Raised Garden Bed

I was thrilled to see the raised garden bed my son had made. He wanted something to do, so he researched the “how to’s”, went and bought the wood and put the thing together. With his brother’s help, they carried it to the backyard and finished tightening the screws.

Step one on the road to Florida vegetable gardening was complete.
Now I just needed some dirt! But buying dirt doesn’t mean you will have the good soil needed to grown super veggies.

Most gardeners know that soil makes or breaks the growth of the plantings. Planting directly in the ground means there is at least something there to begin with, but starting with an empty box means building the good soil from scratch.

The Basics For Building Good Soil

Over the years this is what I use to create good, worm-loving dirt that gives a good yield of crops.  I’m no expert, so feel free to leave a comment with your recommendations.

1. Loam / soil / organic dirt
2. Compost – store bought and / or homemade
3. Organic Fertilizer
4. Bone Meal (for crop root development)

The location of this raised bed presented a problem when it came to filling it. My son has a truck and was happy to go pick up a load of loam / dirt, but getting it to the wooden box was not going to be easy.

First we filled the bottom of the box with leaves and grass collected in the lawn mower bag. Then I put my black fabric bags inside the bottomless box.  I also left a few pieces of cardboard in the bottom to help keep the weeds / grass from growing.

growing carrots and lettuce
Bags with carrots and lettuce

For now, I planted vegetables separately in each of the bags, and I ended up buying some new bags, so I could grow more.

Two bags had potatoes – the red ones gave me lots of little red potatoes, with tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and peas in the others.  When the plants had gone by and were no longer producing, I dumped them into the bed, plants and all.

screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-9-27-07-am
My Garden March 2nd

Between using the dirt in the black pots, and adding compost (store bought and home made), I can eventually fill the box with relatively good soil.

Creating good garden dirt is an ongoing process.   Banana peels, egg shells, and chopped vegetable scraps can be added directly to the dirt in the box.  Soil amendments must be continuously used to replenish the soil.

Hopefully, that will bring earthworms.  Soil can’t be called good, unless there is an abundance of worms!

It’s been 6 months since I began to fill my raised bed, and haven’t done much this summer except let the tomatoes, basil, eggplants, and peppers grow wild. The heat keeps me inside, but I do pick a small tomato or pepper every now and then.

The wood has faded to a weathered appearance, and slowly I will be raising the soil level as I empty more of my fabric bags.

summer garden raised bed
The Summer Garden Grows Wild
female cardinal
Female Cardinal, photo credit: Skeeze @ Pixabay

Cardinals come to the garden looking for bugs to eat, and they drink and bathe in my makeshift bird bath sitting on the corner. (I can’t get a good photo, so I used this one from Pixabay.)

Little lizards run along the edges and I see the occasional ladybug and butterfly on the plants.  Parsley worms have been found on the parsley.

raised garden bed building the soil
Once the weather cools off enough to work outside, I will dump all my fabric bags out into the box. I will add more grass clippings, along with organic fertilizer, bone meal, and cornmeal (supposedly it brings worms). In other words, I will work on building up the dirt to get it ready for winter planting.

I’ve found that the big wooden box is a good place to store my unused bags and pots for now.

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tiny watermelon on the vine

Here’s What’s Happening in My Florida Yard in May

Aside from the fact that the raccoons are helping themselves to all my tomatoes… red and green… I am still attempting to grow a garden.  The raised bed is filling slowly with dirt and compost, and right now I have cucumbers, tomatoes, summer squash, bell peppers, and eggplant growing.

So far I am eating tomatoes and cukes.  Still waiting for the peppers, squash and eggplant.

raised bed gardening
New Plants in My Raised Bed Garden

None of my vegetable plants were doing very well.  They had plenty of sun and water.  The problem was the soil.  I have been buying bags of organic dirt, but I don’t think it had any type of compost in it.  So I  bought a few bags of compost, and that has helped. I had started my own compost in a pail on my porch and I added that to the raised bed.  What I really need is a composter.

Now my older eggplant is flowering again.  I have some green peppers and can see little cucumbers beginning to grow. But I need more dirt and compost.

eggplant flower growing
Maybe I’ll Get an Eggplant
cucumber blossom on vine
Tiny Cuke

The Rose bush is blooming, with small, but beautiful roses.

I must go outside and check them every day, because the flowers don’t last. Just the other day I got a pure white rose on this bush! But I waited too long and lost the opportunity to get a photo.  Roses are difficult to grow and with the humidity here, I’m afraid of black spot – or whatever they get.

pink rose
Pink Rose with Peach Center

Down toward the back of my house the watermelon vine is getting longer, and baby watermelons are popping out along the stem.

tiny watermelon on the vine
Baby Watermelon

Since I’ve amended the soil with compost, the peppers are doing better. The bells are not very large yet, but I’m afraid the raccoons will pick them before I get to.

green bell peppers growing
Finally, my peppers are growing!

It’s been so dry here in Florida for months. This tropical location is in need of rain. We’ve had very few rainy days, and there have been fires all over the place.

Because of this, I decided to add a cheap bird bath to the corner of my garden. Using a big plastic pot saucer, I added some broken bricks left over from the building of our patio, and filled it with water.   It sits on the corner of the raised bed.  Each day I spray it out and refill while I’m watering the garden.

I do get birds who drink and bathe in the thing. A female cardinal especially seems to like it, and a Cowbird (I think) had a nice long bath the other day. Of course my cats drink from it as well!

bird bath
My Cheap Bird Bath

I know that if I was still living in New Hampshire, gardening would hopefully begin this Memorial Day weekend. Their garden veggies won’t be coming in for a couple more months.

pine wood raised bed

Making the Raised Garden Bed

I’ve been in my new house for a couple of months now.  We’ve made headway, but after spending money for a new HVAC system and a new dishwasher, money is getting tight.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the yard, and the position of the sun, to figure out the best spots for my raised garden beds.  Because Florida soil is mostly sand, dumping good soil into a box may be the best way to begin a garden.

The other day, spur of the moment, my son went out and bought some wood and made this raised garden bed! He read some “how to’s” online and then bought everything and put it together (with the help of his younger brother). I think it’s great! It’s made of pine boards and is about 18 inches high.

pine wood raised bed
Raised Garden Bed

Getting dirt into the bed may be a challenge. We have a sprinkler system and a drainage area around the front of the house. It’s a bit like a dry moat which won’t allow for a vehicle to drive over. My son can fill his truck with garden dirt but it will have to be shoveled into a wheelbarrow and dumped into the raised bed. (Read my solution to this problem on this post.)

My parsley and lettuce in the small box is doing well. If I had a bigger garden this time of year (December) I would be planting peas, onions, spinach and kale. Hopefully by next year this garden bed will be ready.

parsley and lettuce
Cool weather crops in a small garden box

I use my beautiful parsley daily by adding it to my omelets, homemade salsa, soups, stews, pizza, spaghetti sauce and meatloaf – to name a few.  It adds such fabulous flavor and is good for the kidneys, in moderation.

It was one of my favorite things to grow in New Hampshire, as it lasted right into the first snowfall. I used to have deer come into my yard and nose through the snow to find it!!  Beautiful…..!  I didn’t mind sharing.

deer in winter
This little deer is searching for leftover parsley, and anything green and good, in my former backyard in New Hampshire.

At the end of the growing season I would store parsley by drying or freezingRead how I do it.

I have noticed, since I moved back to Florida, that there are no seeds, and few decent vegetable seedlings, to be found in the stores.  I managed to save this parsley from a neglected Home Depot shelf in August.  It looked pathetic, but I know how resilient parsley is, and sure enough it grew in nicely.  There is plenty, even though I pick many branches every day!

The lettuce was a recent purchase and it didn’t look too good either, but it seems to be doing well in this recent cool weather we’ve had.  I’ve even used a few leaves to add to a sandwich.  I prefer buttercrunch or the variety lettuce, but I’ll look for seeds next year.

Apparently this is not the time of year to buy seedlings and seeds.  In early spring I will most likely have more luck. For now, I will fill my fabric pots, which I used with much success up north, and grow a few things in there. I found a nearby garden center which I must visit soon.

Raised Garden Bed – Getting Ready to Plant

raised garden bed
Simple Raised Bed of Cinder-Blocks

At last our snow is gone. It could snow again, but it won’t last if it does. We can seriously begin thinking about our gardens now in New Hampshire.

Last year I dragged these cement blocks up from the side of the house and created a raised bed. I ordered dirt from Agway and wheel-barrowed it over to fill the area. I had tomatoes and a zucchini plant in it and they did great.

I will have to begin thinking about what I want to grow and where I’ll plant it. Except for cold weather crops, like lettuce, parsley and peas, I won’t be able to plant until the end of May.

I added Bone Meal to the dirt in this raised bed, but I still need to order a new batch of good dirt too. Finances are a bit tight, and I won’t be buying hanging planters and such to beautify my yard, but certain things I must have to grow some (hopefully) good crops. I garden to eat healthy and save money. And I also enjoy it.

I got outside the other day, when the weather was nice, and took some photos of what is coming up in the yard. I’ll share once I get them off the camera and into an organized group for my blogs.