This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Miracle-Gro. All opinions are 100% mine.
When Drew and I were married, we were pretty particular about the food. Forget the dress and the band, it was all about the food. We were lucky enough to be friends with our caterers, and were treated to a special salad of heirloom tomatoes with basil and olive oil, instead of the usual mesclun mix. One of the passed appetizers was a shot of heirloom tomato soup. Would you believe it? It’s been almost 6 years, and we still remember the taste of those tomatoes.
And now, with 2 kids, we are teaching them that food doesn’t come from a truck, that there is joy in seeing things grow, and eating what you’ve grown tastes so much better!
Between joining our local farm cooperative and cultivating our own raised beds at home, we are also helping our children grow their awareness of where their food comes from and of the responsibility involved in keeping our food system safe and sustainable.
Image via farmproject.org
We get plenty of varieties from the farm, so at home, I like to grow some unusual vegetables like Asian Long-beans, Thai Basil, Bitter Melon, and Louffa Gourds – all weird sounding, but delicious. Plus, one can never have enough Sungold cherry tomatoes, warmed by the summer sun and as sweet as candy.
Here are a few tips on growing a raised bed garden:
1. Decide on what you’ll use for your raised bed, whether it’s untreated wood, pallet wood, masonry or cement blocks. Untreated wood may not last as long as bricks or cement blocks, but can be more easily found or purchased, as opposed to reclaimed bricks. Although reclaimed bricks look beautiful, don’t they?
Image via Pinterest
2. Keep your beds no more than 4 feet wide, so you can reach to the middle of the bed without stepping into the raised bed. Even reaching across 2 feets (half the bed) for those taller plants is a bit of a stretch for me, and I’m 5’8″. If you have enough space and material for several small beds, a bed 3 feet across may work better.
3. Provide plenty of nutrition in the soil. We use a combination of our own compost and store-bought hummus, manure or soil supplements. We’ve seen such a difference when we use quality soils and organic materials. Plus those bits of egg shells you see in your soil just reminds you and teaches your children that this food has come full circle.
4. Choose your growing method. You can arrange your vegetables in rows, in grids (square foot gardening), in companion clusters, or randomly broadcast throughout the bed. If growing in rows or grids, make sure to observe where the sun travels, so taller plants can be grown in the back and shorter plants are set in the front (unless you get so much sun it doesn’t matter).
Last year, because I was pregnant and didn’t want to be weeding constantly, we threw a ton of seed down randomly in one of our beds, with the thinking that since something will grow in every inch of soil, why not make sure it’s stuff we want?
5. Make sure the plants are trellised or otherwise supported properly. You can use poles to support individual plants, or netting strung up from end to end if you have several tall plants, or train vines to grow over a decorative trellis.
Admittedly, our raised beds are not always in tip-top shape. All I can say is that life gets in the way, and when you have to prioritize between going to the farm, doing yardwork, watching Formula 1 and running errands, sometimes, “taking care of the raised beds” falls off the list.
That’s why I’m glad Miracle-Gro products can make my life just a little bit easier. Between their potting mixes, Perlite, in-ground soils and assorted plant foods, both my indoor house-plants and outdoor garden can flourish without too much attention from me.
Then, we can spend more time enjoying the fruits of our labor, like:
– enjoying those summer afternoons when all of us (mom+dad+kid+dog) checks out the garden’s progress
– seeing my son run to the raised beds to grab and eat a cherry tomato
– finding out what herbs look like when they flower
– teaching my son to weed (!!)
– helping my son plant his pumpkin vines in the corner of a raised bed and teaching him patience
Do you have a garden? It can be a house-plant, a container garden, a raised bed, a flower oasis, a patch of ground-cover, a butterfly sanctuary, or a favorite tree to sit under, really anything under the sun, pun intended. I’d love it if you shared a story with me on what you grow and why you grow, or even tips of your own for making a raised bed garden succeed (I can always use more help)!
Leave a comment here and let’s grow a little community of our own, or go to Gro Something Greater and share your story with the world!