Thursday, April 17, 2008

Raised Beds

I have recently been reminded of raised bed gardening. Dave at the Home Garden ( made some cool raised beds for his vegetable garden. My friend Geri feels her very best tip for successful gardening in Tennessee was to use raised beds. Lastly, Lola, my faithful commenter, reader and friend who lives in Florida, sent me some pictures of a raised bed her niece designed and built. Pretty good pictures of the bed too Lola!

I like the neatness of them, and I can clearly see they are functional. Just look at the veggies trailing over the edge. Lola's niece must be a gardener to have such a neat and tidy garden bed with so much lushness. Maybe she has the gardening gene from her Aunt Lola?

Raised beds need not be fancy. Raised beds can be a simple as a mound of soil, or as complicated and exotic as mortared stone walls and everything in between.

Reasons for using raised beds in gardening are varied. Geri says her soil is solid clay with a lot of large and small rocks. Her daughter has been digging a hole for two weeks now and has made the hole only about 6 inches deep in that two weeks! That is not much progress. I jokingly suggested she get Clare a pick axe. She didn't like the joke too much but replied raised beds are the way to go. I had forgotten that in this area it can be very hard to dig for those who have rocks and clay. I am blessed with no rocks or clay.

In addition to raised beds being good alternatives for growing plants in, versus the normal rock and clay, they also improve drainage and warm up faster in the spring time. Many raised beds can be built so as to be accessible for the handicapped as well.

Another gardening friend, Debbie, is growing a vegetable garden using the square foot method. I generally use the French Intensive method of growing vegetables, but this square foot method is similar, and does utilize raised beds. It dictates you must use a specific type of soil and exactly lay out the 12" squares. Debbie purchased a huge bag of vermiculite and mixed her own special mix for her raised beds. She then added a grid to the top of her beds, and planted in the square boxes created by the grid. I am looking forward to seeing how she does with the square foot raised bed method.

The last picture is of one of my raised beds in my vegetable garden. I have always gardened in raised beds, but usually did not have a formal box around them. No, my style of gardening has always been a bit informal with a pile of dirt mounded up and vegetables stuck in it everywhere. That all changed last fall when I had to move my vegetable garden and decided to brick in the walkways. I actually like the neatness and ease of the built beds. Now hopefully my veggies will not sprawl everywhere.

The trellis (A-frame) in this bed is what I will grow my gourds upon. I was not able to grow gourds last year due to the drought, I am making up for that by over planting this year. All my friends (even the far away ones) can expect gourds for gifts. I am not done with making the A-frames and still have two more to make. I will most likely post on my method and show some pictures. It has taken me awhile to get it right. The old method I used for vertical gardening was not working at all.

Raised beds are really the way to go for all gardening. Raised beds not only improve drainage, bring the flowers closer to you, and warm up faster in the spring, but they also provide all of the plants a very good stage for showing off. Just look at Lola's niece's plants and how much nicer they look in the raised bed.
Today is Zachary's 12th birthday. Zachary is Anonymous's son. One more year and he will join his older brother in becoming a teenager. Ooooo scary.....

in the garden....


  1. Hi Tina, fellow early bird, your raised beds are the way to go here, as you say. We often have used the pick axe to dig even a small hole. It is a wonder anything grows at all in that type of soil, it does not grow well there. We built a very high raised bed last fall, eighteen inches, bench height, so we would have a place to garden with out bending over. We will sit on the bench pulled up next to it. It looks like veggies will go in there, carrots and lettuce are alreay in. I like the wheelchair type beds that are a U shape where they can wheel in and work on three sides, such a good idea. Thanks for this story, Tina.

  2. Good morning Frances! I don't guess I have seen your raised bed yet. I am sure it is lovely like the rest of your garden. Especially the knot garden, everyone over here loves it! I always wanted one but no room. Sigh. I'll have to tell Geri my comment about a pickaxe was not SO far off! lol

  3. Anonymous, considering the love for teenager and the love they have I have talked with a friend Jane (78 years young) and we know the PERFECT solution for is the only way I'll have a child...BOARDING SCHOOL!!!

    Good Luck!

  4. Mom- Got your message about moving to another post! That is funny conversations just roll on. I am still a little on the I am not sure side of having a child of my own, but I certainly love being around them. It is so awesome reading to them and stuff like that. Terri Lynn got Josh a great children's CD and on Saturday nights when I have him we sing (I sing) and he loves it...we know that is only love cause I can't sing! Since it is nice out I have been taking for walks as well and we play date with Jay's little girl too. It's just so cool.

  5. Hi Tina --thanks for the birthday wishes for Zachary. He isn't so bad yet --still very much a child --it's that magic number 13 that seems to do something, lol. And, so funny Christielynn --I actually asked him if he'd like to go to a military boarding school this past weekend --he loves to play army, cops and robbers --yes, he is still pretty much a typical kiddo. He was no --I just like to pretend these things --I don't want to go anywhere, rofl. I don't think we could ever send any of them --college will be hard on both of us --watching our kiddos take off and leave the nest, hahah. We won't see the nest empty for at least another decade plus since sidekick and girl model are still quite young.
    Hi Jean --another beautiful day here:) And, Tina I must admit I love the look of those raised beds --they look so neat and organized. It would seem to be a great way to garden if your space was limited or if you had poor soil. Hubby got me mow gas so I guess we all know what I'll be doing, lol. Such a great guy --I like when he fills the can and brings it back:) Ciao!

  6. Oh boy Lola's niece has really great raised beds. Nice and high. What a back saver, not to mention the sooo very neat look. Just love it!!

    Good morning Anonymous and everyone else. A very nice day here also. Right now it is 77 degrees but that is in the sun. It will drop 15 degrees in another hour but not bad. To be actually a true 75 tomorrown. Been a very nice week but rain coming on the weekend. But for us, one of the beautys of being retired, it does not matter what day it rains. LOL

    Tell Zachary to have a GREAT HAPPY BIRTHDAY rom all your cyberspace friends!!!!

    Have fun on the red beauty!!

    Papa and I are off to Portland today so will be away for a while. Gotta make that trip ti BJ'S. I could wait another week or 2 but wanna get it over with.

    Sandra is on her way but does not leave Boston till 7pm tonight.

  7. Your beds are wonderful Lola. What a special niece you must have. I do like the aspect of less bending. But they seem to dry out quickly in the summer heat. That is when drought tolerant plants are best for me…

    I have a few raised beds from brick that I picked up for free at a work sight. I more or less have them in the garden to break it up a bit. I plant Vinca/Periwinkle for the continuous color each year. Two of the planters are identical and at either end of the entrance of the garden being about 20 feet apart from each other but one gets more sun, thus they dont produce plants at the same rate!

    Happy Birthday Zach! In one more year you will have two teenagers! That can be a scary thought but it seems you have them on track Anonymous so nothing to worry about. Any special plans for Zach’s big day? I remember number 12 being a special one at that age, but heck all birthdays were special to me until number 30. Ha....

    Beautiful sunny warm spring day today! Great day for me to get started in the yard. Today’s task will be weed control. I must get a grip after 3 weeks of neglect! I have never let the weeds get this out of control before! Arggg..

  8. Christinelynn, Great picture of you. Love it on here. Conversations just roll along. Glad you can join in as now you, Aunt Dawn, Mimi and I can ALL talk together and I can keep up with you.

    You might someday have kids, never know. Anonymous has four and like she said, will be sad when they are gone. She might cry so much she'd have to get a dog to make up for the companionship. lol (She doesn't care for them-shhh-nothing against them but just doesn't want one). She doesn't know what she is missing huh?

    anonymous, Have fun mowing the lawn, what a guy to get you some gas! That is a big deal now a days with prices what they are. I might have to quit mowing so much. lol

    Mom, Rain coming here too. Rain is good. I just got back from a wildlife refuge and the Cumberland River was quite flooded, but even the floods brought good things. Though a bunch of trash. Had fun and will post. But it will be warm for the rain? Good for plants to grow. 77 is a good temp. Have much fun shopping today! I wish Sandra a safe trip.

    Skeeter, I remember where you got those bricks from. Something like you convinced yourself of something or another? lol

    Raised beds can dry out. But it is easy to set up a soaker hose. That is what I use. Works like a charm when they don't have big huge holes or when you don't chop them up with shovels. Speaking of drought tolerant, I planted my lantana yesterday. I hope it gets enough sun, not worried about water.

    Nice day here. Garden club tonight. ttyl

  9. Hello Everyone,
    Hope all had a glorious, peaceful & productive day.

    A Huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Zachary. Have lots of fun & enjoy.

    Thanks all for the good word on my niece's raised beds. She lives in N.Y. Has a lot of medical problems but she doesn't let that stop her. She & I talk gardening as you can tell. What else is there.

    Got warmer here today--a lovely day. Should have been out in the garden but have frozen all day. Hope I'm not coming down with something. My onions are eating size already. Bush Beans are about to bloom. Collards growing like crazy yet. They are winter crops here. Carrots of course doing great. May have to pull them all as I need that container for Spring planting. Now that I have some egg shells I can go ahead & plant my tomatoes. Pepper plants are waiting too.Ooooooh so much to do---where do I begin?
    I also would like to build raised beds to save what back I have left. And I think they look so neat. As you noticed on my niece's she had a upright trellis so to speak for vines to grow on. I think she put some thought in this one.
    Later, maybe.

  10. Happy birthday to Zachary!
    Even though raised beds dry out quickly I'm under the impression that, not only higher for the back, but, using exact spacing keeps the weeds out. I'm sure there are some while growing.
    Busy couple of days, we are taking advantage of the warm weather to get the mobile ready. Lots of walls to wash, moved my dryer yesterday. (thank-gawd)
    Everything is getting buds now and today we got more bare ground. Hard to believe with 4 foot snowbanks people we strolling around in shorts.
    Well, mom-don't worry about the upcoming baseball games, Zack broke a bone in his hand and maybe out for a couple of weeks. Up at the base of his thumb from catching, I don't have a clue how he did it because it was a week ago (still he was catcher!) and the ball hit his wrist, bruising it. We iced it but the last couple days he has complained about it. He has a hard swollen area on the meaty part under the thumb. He is wearing a fiberglass split with alot of ace around it and has to see the bone doctor to be sure he doesn't need augementation. (placement) Nice. Why me again!!!!

  11. Oh dear Lord Dawn!!!! Once again. Just don't you take another turn now that Zack is ahead of you as you go overboard when you break a bone!!! We were looking forward to the games. Oh well, next year. Who knows maybe the one on the 17th he will be up for it. Guess that is better than the leg or foot. At least he still can walk around okay.

    On our way to Portland Papa said "Well, Sandra's bus leaves in half hour". I said that if I had known that I would not have gone to Bath first and we could see her off. He thought we might be able to make it anyway. We just made it!!!! They were on the bus ready to roll but they let us go out and surprise her. Here are these kids going to Italy for 8 days and Terri-Lynn and Hanna's (Sandra's best friend) mother were the only parents still there. Guess the other parents bolted as soon as they either dropped them off or they went to get on the bus. Can you believe that???? And they wonder what is wrong with this world. Duh!!!! OMG!!! Only 15 from Mt. Ararat going. Their plane left Boston at 7pm so they should be on their way.

    Long day of shopping and I did get a mess of plants and bulbs. Now gotta get busy outside.

    BTY Tina, did you think I am so old and forgetfull that I forgot your hair is grey now? and Joanne were a red head and will always have the red headed complexion. Papa is a red head and now grey, actually blonde but will still always have the complexion.

    Gotta go read the other blogs now that I did'nt get to read this morning.

  12. Broken bones (sorry Zach) and aching bodies, I am right along with yall in pain. I have been going non-stop today and the body is feeling it! The porch has finally come alive with plants! I pulled weeds until I ran out of day light. I planted seedlings and the cats now have the guest room door open again! Cats hate closed doors! LOL... I dug out the tiny puny hosta that the rabbits and Voles did not get last year. I divided and move them back to a planter where I had some a few years ago. Hopefully they will make a come back. Tina, I put the Coral Bells back in that platner too. I put it in the middle of the small hosta. Only one of 17 Lily of the Valley came up. Too wet I guess. I pulled dead twigs from the Lantana and Mexican Heather and they are both coming back with new growth. I have a plan to move one Lantana so I can make a pea-gravel walking path in the garden. I have so much to do and still thinking of new projects. I am so far behind in my normal schedule but surgery had to happen. Oh well, I will just have to get in the yard sooner then normal to beat the heat of the day.

    Blue birds are feeding those babies like crazy. We found eggs in the Wrens nest on the boat! At least someone is getting some use out of that boat! LOL...

    Time to go relax before bed time...
    Another full day planned tomorrow. I am back in the yard and loving it!

  13. Hi Tina, Lola, Jean, Skeeter and Dawn --thank you for all the birthday wishes for my Zachary. You all won't believe this but I left him try my red beauty tonight --three laps around the yard with some goggles and ear plugs --he was LOVING it! It was his special birthday I suppose and I know he won't forget that riding feeling, hahaha. The other kids all stood in awe or maybe it was disbelief that I left someone on my riding mower.
    And, Tina it was nice of my man to get me mowing gas --seeing since he was off to Nashville for a work related dinner --he was looking so good and there I was waving him off with grass all over my pants, boonie cap and sunglasses, rofl. He threw me a kiss --hahahaha
    My weed trimmer spool messed up on me but thankfully in the backyard so the front was finished. It sort of seems melted together and the screwdriver wouldn't break it free --I will have the hubby fix it or get me a new spool. This one is quite old.
    Hi Skeeter --hope you get a nice warm bath tonight and feel great in the morning --you sure do alot when you get out there --I pace myself, hehehe. One day weeds, another day mowing --I really need to plant some veggies but worry about the bunnies. And, you are so lucky to have Lily of the valley --they are absolutely divine --YUM-YUM the scent is "almost" as good as lilacs to me.
    Hi Dawn, I am so sorry to hear your Zack broke his hand. I hope he heals quickly and doesn't have to miss the entire season. It's nice to know you have buds on your trees and stuff now --spring is getting so close to you now. I am happy for you --I remember thinking it would never come when I was a kid in PA. Those piles of gray snow seemed to last forever, lol.
    We didn't have a cake --the boy wanted one of those huge chocolate chip cookies with massive gobs of frosting on it --it was pretty good and quite filling. Of course, no day would be complete without ice cream --vanilla --so exciting, huh? I would've picked something a little more extravagant if it was my birthday, hahaha. All my kiddos really like plain vanilla --guess nothing wrong with that --I just like ice cream with nuts, caramel, chocolate and anything else yummy. Oh, my yellow tulip is bloomed out back --too pretty. Sorry I write a book --kiddos in bed and I have free time now:)

  14. Skeeter is sure sounds like a productive day for you today. Don't wonder that you are feeling it.

    Lilies of the Valley like shade so am wondering if you had them in the shade. If not, try it. A nice shady protected spot and they should do great. I actually just bought some at BJ"s today.

    Anonymous he is old enough to do the mowing for you and also the older one. When my kids were little (a lot younger than Zachary)
    my father let them drive his lawn tractor and my 3rd daughter, Joanne
    who was also the hyper one was driving it and my father had a big pile of dirt and little miss Joanne went as fast as she could up over the pile of dirt. My mother and I was in the kitchen and she was watching out the window
    and started screaming. Mum was not a screamer so I knew something was bad. Anyway, she nearly fliped it but my ran and saved her and the tractor. Funny now but not at the time it was a heart stopper!! She was probably only 6 or 8 at the time, can't remember now.

    Tina must have a long meeting tonight or can't get logged on.

    See you all tomorrow.

  15. Just got home from garden club. Long meeting yes. A bit long after our field trip today. Everyone was tired.

    Will not stay long. Just happy everyone is gardening and having fun. Things are moving very fast for sure! For me too. Will talk about it all later. Stay green and in the garden! I always love the updates from everyone.

    Lola, I bet the boys are having fun. Wouldn't it be funny if they had run into anonymous and didn't know it? Men with perms, too funny to think of!

    Dawn, so sorry about Zack! Gotta get the mobile gone and glad your dryer is moved.

    Mom, Happy you saw Sandra off! and had a good day shopping.

    Skeeter, You should show us your porch. Such a lovely place. Bluebirds are busy here too.

    Anonymous, Big chocolate chip cookies sound really good to me, especially with frosting.

  16. Yes, I am very late getting around the blogosphere tonight. Love the raised beds! I think perhaps I may add a few in this year, it is so hard to get stuff to grow here with the horrible dirt we have.

  17. Tina, hope everything is o.k. with you this a.m. The tremor woke me up around 4:35. Off to another day of errands. Everyone have a great day in the sun!

  18. Good morning all!
    I found out about the earthquake from all of my blogging friends like Anonymous and Nina. Our house in Evansville felt the tremor, but I did not.Hope no more come though.