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Good planning is the key to a great garden

When starting a new garden, there are more things to consider than just buying some plants at a big box store. Careful planning will make gardening easier, eliminate some of the trial and error, save you money by not buying what you don’t need, and make your whole gardening experience more enjoyable!

Throughout this website, I will provide you with real time gardening steps from planning through harvest, so that you can grow the healthiest and most productive vegetable garden that you ever imagined!

I will be posting new pages that will guide you through various topics that relate to the current time of year and what you could be working on. I will also be posting regularly to my blog, keeping you up to date about my own garden journey, including successes and problems.

Did you notice I didn’t say failures? I believe that as long as you try your best, and if you learn something from a problem or mistake, then it is not a failure.

From time to time, there will be pages on pest and weed control and solutions for common plant ailments. As your garden grows and you begin to reap your bounty, I will also post recipes using vegetables that are in season. Later on, I will have instructions on preserving by canning, freezing, pickling and drying, so you can enjoy the goodness long after the gardening season is over.

You can find a list of current topic pages and a link to my blog in the menu on the right. I can also be found on Facebook, writing about my garden adventures and sharing relevant and sometimes not so relevant posts by myself and others. If I have written something that you would like to share, please do!

For right now, please enjoy this post about building my new raised beds, or the beginning of Grandma’s Little Gardens.

My Simple Raised Bed Construction 

Probably the best investment I have made in my garden!


photo of my shoe with clay built up on bottom.

After years of fighting with my soil (dense, clay, rocky and noxious weeds) and finding more difficulty kneeling and bending with each new gardening season, I decided it was time to invest in good raised beds. In this shot you can see how badly the clay would build up on my shoes no matter how much I amended the soil.

So, after some careful planning on graph paper and with the help of my other half, Pat, and my Brother Guy, we headed over to the Home Depot where I purchased a LOT of 2x6x8 untreated lumber, a large box of deck screws and some 2×4’s. The beds were extremely simple to build and if you would like to try it yourself, here is a short photo essay of what we did. If you don’t have access to a good saw you can have them cut the wood for a small fee. (For the 5 beds there were 30 2x6x8ft, 18 2x6x3ft, 12 2x6x4ft and 30 2x4x2ft for the supports.)

  Stack of lumber.  Wood being cut.The side walls are built.

Ground leveled and beds being constructed.  Unloading the compost delivery.  The finished raised beds.

 

Yes, that nice pile of lumber was cut by me! The 2×4’s were cut into 2 foot lengths and attached to the 8 foot 2×6’s to create 10 sides, each 18 inches tall. (The remaining 6 inches of 2×4 were left on top to be able to attach another side board at a later time, or used to support plastic sheeting in case of an unexpected frost.) 3 of either 3ft or 4ft boards were attached on the ends.  In all, we made 2 beds that were 4×8 feet and 3 beds that were 3×8 feet.

The old garden area was leveled and the new raised beds were assembled in place, filled with a foot of topsoil/compost/sand mix and then topped off with about 5 inches of some really good compost!

These 5 beds gave me 136 square feet of the best gardening experience ever! The soil wasn’t being walked on, so it was never compacted. The quality soil drained well but never dried out, and the compost supplied most of the nutrients and blocked any weeds!

More space, more veggies!

Adding in the existing keyhole garden, I now have about 185 sq ft of raised beds. I incorporated the Square Foot Gardening idea (which I will write a page about later on), and between the new beds, great soil and compost, the little gardens were AMAZING!

Total cost to make 5 large raised beds, including wood, screws, hardware, soil, compost, mulch and soil amendments was just under $500. The resulting produce value more than paid for it all, and I had a great time doing it … with a bit of help! Total yield recorded was 323 pounds of veggies and herbs. With a produce value of approximately $718, the raised beds paid for themselves with a bit of produce profit left over! Not bad, but it would have been more accurate if I remembered to take the time to weigh all the produce that I gave away!

Finished raised beds, all filled and ready to plant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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