Raise Your Garden To A New Level

It’s getting close to Spring and warmer temperatures are right around the corner. Do you have a garden plan in the works?  Here in the Midwest we still have a few more weeks before cool weather vegetables can be planted directly out of doors.  It is certainly time though to start your indoor seedlings.  By April 1st you should have flats of tomatoes, peppers and other warm season plant seeds ready and sitting in a warm window or under grow lights.  This way by our last frost date, May 30th, you’ll have decently sized seedlings ready for transplant or at least for hardening off.

Wish I could say these are mine, but they are my mom's raised garden beds that my dad made for her last year.  He made them out of #2 Pine Lumber, kiln dried and not pressure treated.  The final dimensions are 10 ft. long x 4 ft. wide and 12" deep.  There is a 3 foot walkway between the beds.

Wish I could say these are mine, but they are my mom’s raised garden beds that my dad made for her last year. He made them out of #2 Pine Lumber, kiln dried and not pressure treated. The final outer dimensions are 10 ft. long x 4 ft. wide and 12″ deep. There is a 3 foot walkway between the beds.

All of my gardens are in raised beds.  The native soil in my county and in my yard is mostly clay.  Any topsoil or loamy soil has to be brought in by the truckload to make planting easier.  I decided many years ago that I didn’t just want to dig this into the clay hardened ground.  So, I opted to build raised beds.  As a mom of a toddler at the time I didn’t have much time to go shopping around for nice wood planks to build my ideal garden beds.  I wasn’t working either so I didn’t have money for it to boot.  There were discarded rail ties, fence posts and other planks of wood in the buildings adjacent to the house so I decided to put them to use.  In between loads of laundry, poopy diapers and feedings I scoped out a place in my yard to build my raised beds.

Most of them were 4’x8′ or pretty close to it.  This made them the ideal size for arms reach to the center of the garden and to walk around with the wheelbarrow.  I made sure the paths stayed 4 feet wide to accomodate me, a wheelbarrow and any other tools I may have when in the garden.  It makes it spread out a little but there wasn’t anything else in the way.  I tried to make sure the southern end of my garden was parallel to the back side of my outbuilding so my husband wouldn’t give me more of a hard time about how the darn thing looked.  It took some time, but I built and filled each bed one by one.  Today I have six in all and would love to add more.

Why Raised Garden Beds?

All plants need three basic things to grow and thrive in a garden – rich soil, plenty of water and the right amount of sunlight.  Though there are some people who can provide this without much effort there are others of us plagued by various obstacles.  These can take the form of clay or sandy soil, weed riddled yards, or even personal obstacles like arthritis or other pain disorders which make bending and kneeling a problem.

How can a raised garden bed alleviate these problems?

Let’s look first at soil quality.  Ideally, you should have loamy soil.  This provides the right amount of air, water and nutrients with good drainage.  You can build loamy soil with compost, purchased or made, along with double digging or mounding this on top of our existing ground.  That’s OK, but it’s a lot of work and mounding the soil on top just allows for it to be washed away. 

If you have too sandy soil then you have the problem of little nutrients and excessive drainage.  Your little seedlings will go down as far as they can to find water only to starve and dehydrate in the process while you break your back trying to water constantly.

In heavy clay soils your plants will drown.  They have plenty of nutrients, but without enough space between the particles to allow water to flow through and roots to burrow your plants essentially drown in shallow ground.  Not to mention if the ground dries out it will turn into a rock hard plank that only the most tenacious weeds can grow through.

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Building a raised bed in your chosen garden location will allow you to control the soil quality and drainage.  If your site is in a low lying area you can build it up to prevent it from becoming a puddle.  Nice thing is you don’t have to FILL it up with good loamy soil.  The deepest a garden really needs to be is 12″ to allow for the roots of your plants to spread and thrive.  So even if you make the raised bed 3 feet tall on legs the portion that holds the dirt need only be the top 12″ of that.

Raised to Another Level

This last part leads me to how this could help individuals with pain disorders to enjoy outdoor gardening.  A raised platform garden on legs allows for gardening without the extra effort of bending or kneeling.  Even people in a wheelchair can benefit from this kind of garden set up.  These platform gardens can be set up on a deck or a patio and made to be large or small depending on your space and needs.  There is no need to resign yourself to indoor potted plants when you could be enjoying fresh air, sunlight and the gardening you love.


29 comments for “Raise Your Garden To A New Level

  1. March 19, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    I never really thought about the health benefits a raised garden can offer. I do know how the soil quality improves though. My mom has a raised bed and her fruits/veggies grow really, really well!
    TerriAnn @ Cookies & Clogs recently posted…Homeschooling Woes & Mischievous Teen Doodle #HumorMy Profile

  2. March 19, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    These are some great reasons for a raised garden bed. I hope to do a garden this spring.
    Angela recently posted…Treat Yourself to Spa Week Spring 2014 {Giveaway}My Profile

  3. March 20, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I was JUST outside thinking I need to clean out my garden tomorrow since it’ll be in the low 60s and the ground is soft from all the melting snow and rain we’ve had. I wish mine were that pretty, too. We used railroad ties to make ours.
    [email protected] recently posted…Find Science Fair Inspiration with Netflix!My Profile

  4. March 20, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    We had our first raised bed last year and the produce did really well. Our kids built it for their garden. I’d like to do more for our personal use this year.
    Theresa @ Faith and Family Reviews recently posted…Welcome Prom Season with Jen Jen HouseMy Profile

    • March 25, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      It’s so much fun. My girls plant their seeds and plants and while I tend the rest of the garden they dig for earthworms to play with, lol!

  5. March 20, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    We get the military shipping crates from the bases because they don’t need them anymore, and my mother-in-law uses them in her garden. It makes a world of a difference too. This is such a great tip.
    Crystal Green recently posted…Preparing for Your First Golf CourseMy Profile

    • March 25, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      Now I’m curious how big these are and where I can get me some! 🙂

  6. March 20, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    I wish we had a yard so I could have a garden. We live in an apartment.

    • March 25, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      Have you ever tried container gardening? It might work for your space constrained situation.

  7. March 21, 2014 at 11:42 am

    We have garden beds just like this at our house! It is great and we are glad we invested in making them!!
    Kelsey Apley recently posted…FREE Garnier Nourishing Cleansing Oil or Exfoliator SampleMy Profile

  8. March 21, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    I think this would be something I would need to do here in North Texas if I ever decided to garden. The natural soil here is clay so I don’t think it grows veggies very well without a lot of prep work to it.
    Tammy Litke (@threedifferent) recently posted…Chicken Cordon Bleu PastaMy Profile

    • March 25, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Nice thing about a raised bed is you can cover and or vent it to meet your local conditions and even install irrigation to a smaller area to make sure your garden is consistently moist.

  9. March 21, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    I built mine 2 years ago out of pine & cheap corner brackets. It’s holding up swell.

    • March 25, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      That’s what my parent’s garden is made out of though I think my dad used stakes on the inside to nail the outer boards into. I think I may do the same since I can find kiln dried pine.

  10. March 21, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    The lush grass and sheer amount of land pictured in your parents’ garden photo took my breath away. I sure wish that was even a possibility here in Las Vegas. Living in the desert, we’re lucky if a small herb garden lasts!
    Marcie W. recently posted…Hande Made It: Unique Handmade Jewelry + Giveaway (4/11)My Profile

    • March 25, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      OH, I can’t even imagine. Their yard after years of being torn up looks fabulous. They have 4 acres with a pond. Makes me jealous but at the same time happy I don’t have that much land to take care of either.

  11. March 22, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    I love those raised garden beds. I would love to have some like that in the back just off our deck.
    Mickey recently posted…Caribe Royale – Orlando Florida Family ResortMy Profile

    • March 25, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      There are so, so many options for raised beds. If you search Pinterest or Hometalk it’s enough to make your head spin. Figure out how much room you have and if you can afford premade kits or boards and hardware you will cut and put together. Or you could use repurposed materials like old pallets, fence posts, cinder blocks and a number of other ideas you can find online. If you have it lying around a barn or in the backyard you might be able to put it to use as a garden.

  12. March 23, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    What a great garden. I hope to do one someday soon.
    Anne – Mommy Has to Work recently posted…Spring Break, Part 1My Profile

  13. March 23, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    I loved my raised beds when we lived on the farm. My husband build all of mine from re-used barn wood.
    April Decheine recently posted…Dandelion Cranberry Tea – Jillian Michaels InspiredMy Profile

    • March 25, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      Your a city slicker now aren’t you? LOL You still make fresh veggies part of your healthy lifestyle and that is awesome.

  14. March 23, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    One thing I miss about non-apartment living (lived in a duplex a couple years ago) is having my own garden. That’s why I can’t wait until move – hopefully sometime this year or next year. 🙂
    HilLesha recently posted…Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Herbs, Cherry Tomatoes, and Fresh MozzarellaMy Profile

    • March 25, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      Is there room on a patio or terrace for a container? Maybe you could grow a tomato plant, some salad greens and a few herbs without taking up too much room.

  15. March 23, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    This is what I need to do. I’m going to ask my husband to help me build a couple of raised beds. Yay! 🙂
    Donna recently posted…#ImBornTo Be a Fashionista – Curate for a Cause eBay Sweepstakes #sponMy Profile

  16. March 24, 2014 at 1:15 am

    I love raised flower beds, I have been wanting to get some for years!
    Kathleen recently posted…#ImBornTo Camp – Product Picks for the Camping ObsessedMy Profile

    • March 25, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      I’m looking to redo all my garden beds this year so I have something more like my mom’s.

  17. May 29, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    I really liked how you used rail ties for a project. My sister is looking to use rial ties in her next project. It would be really nice if she could get a professional to help her find some.

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