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, organic 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 pine 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.  (See this raised bed, full of dirt and plants, in May 2018)

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.

Pictures of My Backyard Raised Bed Tomato Garden

large fabric raised garden
The Bigger Fabric Garden
raised bed with tomatoes
The tomato bed as of mid-July

Here are two (before and after) pictures of my backyard gardens. I planted 4 tomatoes in this fabric raised bed back in June. I added a few basil plants and radishes around the edge. As you can see, by mid July they are growing like crazy. I haven’t eaten any tomatoes yet, they are still green. I have one red grape tomato that I will probably eat tomorrow and that means there will soon be more that are ripe. All my fabric raised beds are doing well except for the potatoes, but I don’t know if they are just ready to be dug.

The potato stalks look like they are dying, so I hope when I dig down into the bag I will find potatoes worth eating. Those little turd bugs got ahold of the leaves while I was away for 10 days.  My carrots don’t look too good either.  I haven’t grown carrots for many years because I never had much luck with them getting large enough to use.

My concrete block raised bed is also doing well.  I have zucchini in that along with a couple of grape tomato plants.  I just ate boiled zucchini for breakfast!

Ugly, But Free, A Raised Bed Garden Made of Cinder (Concrete) Blocks

raised garden bed
Simple Raised Bed of Cinder-Blocks

Oh how I’d love to have the land in that picture I used! It’s not my yard. I don’t have a big sunny parcel of land. Because of that, it makes growing vegetables, in our short, New England growing season, tough to do. The sun is scarce in my yard, which is surrounded by tall pines and hardwood trees. My yard is also small. I’m always on the lookout for solutions to these problems so I can grow more crops.

This idea of making a raised bed from cinder-blocks is not mine. I saw it in the “Organic Gardening” book.  It looks ugly, but it was free to build because I already had the blocks.

When I came across an article in the magazine which showed five types of alternative raised beds, the concrete block one jumped out at me.  I could do this!

dsc07551
Shade is a problem when it comes to vegetable gardening in a small yard

The thought of having another sunny spot to grow vegetables stuck in my mind as winter carried on.  I would have to lug the blocks up a hill to my front yard because that was the sunny spot.  While I waited for the mud to dry up in spring, I watched the path of the sun to decide the best location for my new patch of dirt.

Once the garden loam was delivered, I enlisted my teenage son to help me move the blocks – those suckers are heavy! I used the wheelbarrow to fill the space with dirt and some compost, and then planted the rest a tomato and zucchini in there.  It’s not a huge garden, but it did give me some extra growing space.

dsc05427This was an experiment for me, and I’m not raised bed savvy.  It was a quick fix for lack of garden space and I did get vegetables to grow there.  Since then I have learned a bit more about raised bed gardening and am beginning a new raised bed garden (made of wood this time) in my Florida home.

An even easier idea is to buy fabric bags and use them as raised beds.  They work well for many types of vegetables.