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Tips for Growing a Raised Bed Garden

by | Uncategorized

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.

tomato soup in a glass

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?

Brick raised beds

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).

Weedless gardening

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.

Growing a raised bed garden | www.1dogwoof.com

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!

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22 Comments

  1. Tara

    I so wanted to have a garden this year, but moving and the seasons are proving to thwart these plans.

    I love the idea of having home-grown food. I can’t wait to read about your gardening adventures this year!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Ooh, the pressure is on for me to document my growing adventures this year 🙂 It stinks that our season doesn’t start until almost June, but maybe this year, I’ll try seeding indoors and hardening outdoors while I’m home. Now you’ve got my wheels spinning…

      Reply
  2. Bethany

    A raised bed garden sounds lovely AND yummy! We grew tomatoes last year and really enjoyed it. 🙂

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      “Yummy” is key for us, Bethany 🙂 I love the tomatoes we get every year!

      Reply
  3. Sarah @ Repeat Crafter Me

    We have 3 raised garden beds on the side of our house where we grow tomatoes, peas, squash, strawberries, pumpkins and more! Never thought about using brick instead of untreated wood. Great idea! We also have a wooden pallet herb garden. Nothing better than teaching the kids how to grow their own healthy food. We look forward to watching our garden grow each year!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Wow, that’s a lot of stuff! I’ve never had success with strawberries, probably because I’m too greedy and I’d need to plant an acre to get as many as I want 🙂

      Reply
    • ChiWei

      I think it’s going to be so much more fun once J gets a little older and can really help out. Does N get involved?

      Reply
  4. Kara

    My husband is the gardener in our family … I will show him this!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Thanks Kara. My husband does the heavy lifting. I make the executive decisions, haha 🙂

      Reply
  5. Denise @ Heavenly Crochet

    What a lovely garden you have! Today we planted in our first raised garden since moving to the country. We used concrete blocks (cinder blocks) to keep the turtles out. We planted 2 sweet green peppers, 2 cherry tomatoes, 4 Creole tomatoes (mmmm, tomato sammiches!), 2 summer squash, 2 zucchini squash, and 2 cucumber plants. We soaked them in Miracle Gro (for roses :0) ) before planting. Almost in little rows, but mostly just dug a hole and planted! We are certainly hoping for a full harvest as we planted the veggies we really can’t afford in the stores. Thanks for a wonderful post today! Blessings…….

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Thank you Denise! You’re my type of planter – almost in little rows – too funny! I do that too, just dig a hole and pop them in. And yes, grow the stuff you can’t afford to buy, and they all taste better too! Mmmm, I love my tomatoes fresh and with a little bit of salt and pepper.

      Reply
  6. Jeanie @ create&babble

    Every spring I say that I’m going to try gardening. Maybe this year I really will! Thanks for the great tips!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Ha! I always say I’m going to grow the best garden and keep up with the weeding….annnnnd I never do. By August, I’m just worn out 🙂 I do hope you give it a try though – it’s a lot of work, but totally worth it!

      Reply
  7. Sky

    I can’t even wait until we own our home and some property to be able to really garden- I’ve been longing for it lately! Love the story from your wedding, too 🙂

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      I remember when I lived in a condo and couldn’t do anything except have a potted plant on my back porch that got no sun. So happy to have a yard now (and a husband who mows!)

      Reply
  8. Marilyn

    I’ve been wanting to build a raised garden bed…thanks for all the amazing info!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      You’re welcome Marilyn! Can’t wait to see how yours turns out 🙂

      Reply
  9. Kadie

    Right now all I have is flowers and a few herbs. But, I must say I love love love to come home and see my roses in full bloom! The kids really enjoy seeing the flowers come up and helping me plant each spring. A couple of years ago I did 2 large raised beds the cantaloupe, peas, and green beans did really well…..but nothing else grew.

    Since moving to Texas it has been difficult to grow much more than flowers and herbs {basil always does amazing here}. But I have a friend that has started selling baskets of veggies from her HUGE 1 acre garden. I love going over to help pick the produce, and get tips on how to start my own garden again. 🙂

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Holy cow, an acre? I always wonder how to keep something like that weed-free. But it’s awesome that you can help out without the full responsibility of maintaing it! I can’t wait until our flowers are in bloom too – always adds so much color!

      Reply
  10. Melanie

    We have a container garden, but I can’t wait until the boys are old enough to be the farmers for our garden!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Me too! First thing – train them to be weeders 🙂

      Reply

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