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Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Results of Raised Garden Beds

This year the two old people who live in our house decided that she was too old and rickety and he was too old, too rickety, too crotchety and just too grumpy to plant and maintain the full-scale vegetable garden as they did in previous years.


Early this spring raised garden beds were taken into consideration and became part of our daily dialogue. After shopping at the likes of Home Depot and Lowe's it became apparent that they did not carry the type of wood we were looking for - a thick and heavy type that would last longer than what they had to offer. A trip to one of our local sawmills resulted in a consultation which resulted in the purchase of the exact amount of 2" thick hemlock boards that were needed to build three sturdy 3' x 10' raised vegetable beds. No doubt this was going to be a backbreaking job to unload these boards from the trailer that was used to haul them home but fortunately for us (or I should say me) a healthy neighbor came by just in time to give a hand.

I might add that a couple of the young chicks in the family immediately gave their approval of us using the hemlock wood.........or were they just looking for a free ride?

After getting the three frames built we realized we had room for one more raised bed so off to the saw mill once more we went to purchase more hemlock boards.

I'll be the first to admit that the whole process of excavating the land and building the frames was a large endeavor but not as large as filling the empty frames with the soil mixture that was delivered from a local landscaper and dumped onto the driveway. It's a good thing that these empty frames need only be filled once upon creation of the raised beds as dumping wheel barrel full after wheel barrel full of the soil into the frames was a back-breaking process which just about killed these two old folks. Tension? What tension?


Comparing the before picture with the after picture makes it all worth while:
Before Raised Gardens

After Raised Gardens
Believe it or not there actually was a grape vine growing in the area where the barn roof is soiled which was taken out of existence along with a small water pond.

The windows on the side of the building look good but they are fake. They were picked up on the side of the road and brought home to be given a new life.

I know what you're thinking: it's amazing that two old folks can accomplish this greatness!!

Four raised vegetable gardens along with a beautiful flower garden in a not-so-large area of space should inspire anyone contemplating the idea of home gardening.

With a little effort and at least 6 hours of sunlight anyone can accomplish this treasure.


Not living in an area that provides public water we must depend on a well for our water usage. Fearing the well might run dry during the hot summer months we installed a rain barrel for keeping the plants watered. The rainwater washes off the roof into the gutter directly into the top of the rain barrel as pictured. There is a spigot attached to the front of the rain barrel to turn the water on and off that I use to fill my watering can. A garden hose is very close by to the garden that I'm able to use if I want to get the job done quickly.

Because the chickens became too curious with the raised beds and we couldn't shoo them away fast enough their scratching antics became a nuisance. Hence, the 3 foot tall green fence had to be put up to keep them at bay. It worked for the chickens but of course not for the rabbits.

Comfortable seating is required in order to properly watch the garden grow along with a table to hold beverages for sufficient human hydration and possibly food.

Limited weeding tools are required. If planted properly the plants will grow large enough to cover and kill a great deal of the weeds.

More before, between and after pictures to get you thinking why and how you can make this happen at your home:

This is a birds eye view of the new growth in the garden: 2 sweet zucchini plants, 1 bed of bush beans, 1 small bed containing a cucumber plant, 1 bed of carrots shared with red, green and yellow bell peppers, 1 bed of elongated beets and 1 bed of swiss chard. The beans, carrots, beets and swiss chard were all grown from seed. The cucumbers, peppers and zucchini were started and bought from a greenhouse.

A couple bales of hay spread around the entire area of the vegetable garden worked to my advantage. First it kept the weeds at bay and second it provided a dry ground for walking, keeping my footwear neat and clean.

A close-up view of the cucumber plant:

Pretty, ain't she?

And productive, too.

She trained her tiny tendrils to grab onto the fencing and hold on for dear life!

The only con I found was her thirst. Being in such a small raised bed caused the soil to dry out too frequently and she had to be watered daily.

l might have to rethink how I plant cucumbers next year.

A close-up view of the two zucchini plants:

The two ugly duckling plants on the left are shown newly planted


they grew into the beautiful swan plants on the right.

Let's not overlook the fragrant herb bowl:

A wave of the hand over it's growth provides renewed energy and it's pickings are shared in the kitchen.

One more impressive zucchini pic.


Fresh string beans at meal time get steamed; extras go into quart jars for canning. The seeds I planted this year were saved from the crop of last year for replant.  

Some of the carrots will also be steamed for a meal time dish but the majority of them will be processed in quart jars for eating at a later date.

The swiss chard gets steamed in a large pot and when cool it gets weighed out in 1 pound increments that go into freezer bags and put in the freezer.

Our favorite, beets, after they have been cooked to tenderness are turned into pints of pickled beets and bagged for freezing - to be savored during the colder months. The greens (tops of the beets) are steamed and used fresh as a side dish to a meal.

Red, yellow and green peppers are used fresh in salads and other recipes. Any remaining towards the end of the summer are washed, chopped and frozen for use at a later date.

I can't forget to mention the rhubarb that grows along the other side of the fence next to the garden and is one of the first spring plants to produce. Under normal growing conditions the rhubarb is very hearty. The dry weather this year caused the rhubarb to be smaller, more spindly and less succulent. I was only able to harvest enough rhubarb this year that produced 8 pints of strawberry rhubarb jam. I am so looking forward to a better harvest next year.

How it all began on the left and ready for harvest on the right.

There will be additional pages added to this blog that will walk through the different methods of processing each crop.

Seeing is believing.

Anyone is capable of turning tender plants and hearty seeds into a sustainable raised vegetable garden.

The rewards are outstanding and

the health benefits are tremendous!  : )

I hope you enjoyed this tour and accept it as encouragement for successful gardening!


  1. What a harvest! Good for both the body and the mind!

  2. Like this idea of the raised garden.

    1. I'm pleased that you like this idea. I highly recommend it. It's very easy to maintain after the initial build.

  3. Great looking garden, both veggies and flowers. =) We have been toying with the idea of the raised beds but have yet to take the plunge.

    1. Thank you for the compliment. We made three raised beds because of the fact that crops are supposed to be rotated every three years. This year I ordered a second compost bin so I can place it very near the raised beds. This way I don't have to go far to distribute the final product. In addition I ordered some worms that I'll be raising indoors who I'm hoping will provide me with 'enhanced' compost for my raised beds as well. Once the beds are built and in place they are extremly simple to maintain. Good luck.