If you are just getting started gardening or using only containers, then I hope this raised bed garden tour has you considering how you can do some raised bed gardening too.
I’m a raised bed garden newbie. When I was a kid we had a really big garden. That’s what kept us fed. We didn’t have a lot of money and would not have eaten nearly as well if not for the garden. As a young adult I continued to garden on a very small scale, but as a young single mother in my 20’s, when I moved to the city I didn’t have the time or the inclination to garden. It really wasn’t something people I knew did.
It’s just been the last few years that the desire to be more self-reliant and eat cleaner whole foods has led me back to gardening. For a couple of years I only planted a few things in containers. This is the first year I’ve gone full on raised bed gardening and like everything I get a serious hankering to do, I go full steam ahead for all I’m worth! Once I make up my mind, I do tons of research then dive in head first. There is no sticking my toes in the water here. It’s dive right in!
My backyard garden is very small but using the high intensity gardening method I’ve got a lot going on. Intensity gardening basically means planting the most you can in as small of a space as possible, getting much more yield with less work.
This is how Mother Earth News explains it…
4 Principles of Intensive Gardening
1. Permanent garden beds. Establishing permanent beds enables you to concentrate your efforts only on where plants grow, without wasting compost or irrigation water on unplanted areas. It also makes soil compaction a nonissue, because you walk on permanent pathways and never on your growing areas. Setting up permanent beds and paths is such a popular layout here in the Pacific Northwest that I haven’t seen a garden arranged in rows for years.2. Reliance on compost. Both systems rely on the tried-and-true groundwork of all organic gardening: heavy doses of compost to supply balanced, slow-release nutrients needed to grow healthy crops. The organic matter in compost also increases soil’s water-holding capacity and improves its texture.
3. High-density mixed planting. A key to the high productivity of both systems is that they take advantage of the entire surface of each bed to grow plants rather than leaving spaces between rows. This results in even more yield without adding more garden space. For novice gardeners, Bartholomew’s method of marking off beds in 1-foot squares may be particularly helpful as a way to visualize how densely one can plant. Interspersing crops with different root depths, plant heights and growth rates also means you can grow more in a given space.
4. Prompt succession planting. Staggered planting and, thus, staggered harvests are more efficient for the gardener and maximize the growing season. Quickly replanting any gaps left after harvesting a particular crop lets you use every area of the garden throughout the year.
Here’s what I have planted in my little 140 square feet of garden beds and containers in the walkways around them.
Sweet Red Onions
14 Tomato Plants
10 Pepper Plants
6 Cucumbers vine and bush variety
Basil (spread throughout all beds for pest control)
6 Bush Bean Plants
Marigolds (throughout all bed for pest control)
St. John’s Wort
Not only am I using high intensity planting methods but I’m also growing tall instead of wide to make the most of my space. Anything that I can train to grow up a trellis, tower (in my case old TV antenna towers) or stake, I’m doing it.
My husband and son in-law built the raised garden beds for me the 2nd weekend in April, the next week I had 7 tons of dirt delivered. For the next week the three of us shoveled all that dirt into the beds. That was the extent of my husband and son in-law’s involvement. It’s now all on me.
As soon as the beds were a little more than half filled with dirt, to amend the soil I added composted cow manure and potting soil to the beds.
I began and got much of the planting done the last weekend in April. I jumped the gun a bit. We’ve had a very chilly May with a night freeze (26 degrees) and 2 frosts in the first 2 weeks. I covered everything that was not cold hardy and luckily didn’t lose anything but than my good bed sheets, however my garden just didn’t thrive because of the lower than normal temperatures. I knew better. Anything can happen in Illinois in the early spring.
This week the weather has been sunny and warm all week and my garden has thrived! Everything has come alive and doubled or tripled in size overnight it seems!
So with all that said, I hope you will join me on my first raised bed garden tour, even if we are into week four. Watch my garden tour video below.
Thanks so much for watching! I hope you’ll subscribe to my You Tube Channel and follow along as my garden continues to expand and grow with the seasons. I plan to keep adding new things all summer and to plant cold season crops in the fall so keep watching!
Gardening books and tools I recommend:
Raised Bed Gardening For Beginners https://amzn.to/2M95LK7
Small Space Gardening https://amzn.to/3cixOS2
Garden Genie Gloves https://amzn.to/2TS6sMb
Sun Joe Garden Cultivator (mini roto-tiller, you need one!) https://amzn.to/2XGDQXB
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