The Growing Garden: Raised Beds

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When we moved into our home in the spring of 2005, one of the first things we did outside was till up a garden. Our previous home had a TINY backyard that was mostly shaded so I never had the chance to garden there.
 
Now that we are living on just under 2 acres there is quite a bit of real estate to grow our own produce. And now looking back I wish I would have made more of an effort to squeeze in a small garden at least.
 
Our first garden was a typical plow it and plant type. We dove in head first…and had a TON of weeds/grass. But we did get a good harvest of things and we pressed on.
 
It wasn’t until 2009 that we decided to build some raised beds. I had done did some reading on the topic and learned about square foot gardening.

That first year we built 2 beds and then planted 2006-07-14-GARDEN-1some other things along side them.  We did that last year as well. But this year we decided to add some more beds.  Next year we plan to add 2-4 more.

So why did we go with raised beds? Well a huge part of it is because its easier! They weren’t difficult to build (or that expensive). We took the time to dig up all the weeds/grass growing in the aisles. We then put down a double layer of newspaper followed by a good layer of straw over the top. This has helped tremendously with weeds. They are much easier to maintain. They are easy to spot as soon as they start coming up so you can address the problem right away.

Having lots of help is always a plus!  🙂

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We also brought in fresh, compost enhanced dirt to fill the beds.

Making Raised Beds

Then we were able to get planting once we had the final product done.  This photo was taken after some initial planting right after we finished the new beds & rows this spring:

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As you can see we also mulched the tomato/pepper bed with straw as well. Off a tip from our neighbor we have started using dried out grass clippings for this purpose. It works fantastic and its FREE! 🙂 Make sure they you aren’t using grass that has gone to seed. Otherwise you’re making more work for yourself! The pic above was the garden in late May. Here’s how it looks now – Dave built trellises for the peas (front left) and the beans (straight back from the peas). As you can see our tomato plants have done well 🙂 Next year I’ll be spacing them out a bit more!

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It was a little work to begin with but I think the end product is totally worth it!

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Our counters & fridge are now full of cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, beans, peas and more.  And someday maybe we’ll have some grapes as well!  They are growing great.  It’s hard to believe but the back plant (red grapes) started as a small stick with one tiny bud on it in late June/early July.  Now it’s almost as big as the front plant (concord grape) that we planted full of leaves around the same time.

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So how does your garden grow?  Do you use raised beds or a traditional plowed bed?  What is your favorite thing to grow?  I love this time of year when the garden is producing – giving all of those benefits to the hard work you put into it all spring & summer.

And now I’ll leave you with a photo to show what happens when you leave some photography up to 9 & 7 yr olds.  🙂

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