There are many benefits to using a raised vegetable garden bed in your gardens. For starters, elevated garden beds are easier on your back and knees because they require less bending, kneeling and crawling than regular beds. In addition, raised garden beds offer better drainage, which means your plants are not stuck sitting in excess water every time it rains. Plus, it is much easier to build your soil up than it is to work amendments into the ground. Fortunately, building raised vegetable garden beds is a super easy do-it-yourself project. All you need are some readily available tools and materials, and maybe an extra pair of hands. Raised Vegetable Garden Bed Instructions Tools and Materials (makes two 8’ x 4’ x 6” high beds) (6) 1” x 6” x 8’ cedar boards* – 2 boards cut into 4’ sections Wood screws and/or 8 metal corner brackets Power drill Important Note: Cedar is naturally insect and moisture resistant, so it tends to hold up well in outdoor environments. Avoid using pressure treated lumber for your food growing areas because the chemicals used to create them can leach into your soil. *Cedar boards come in a variety of lengths and widths. Obviously, using 6” wide boards will give you more shallow beds than 10” boards. Choose whichever length and width combination you prefer. I'm a rebel, for my beds, I prefer them 16 inches or higher, and about 3 ½ feet wide. I find the extra depth makes it easier to grow deep root vegetables, such as Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Okra, and Tomatoes. To assemble your raised vegetable garden beds, line the ends of an 8’ foot section and a 4’ sections up so they form an “L” shape. While your helper holds the boards in place, secure the two boards together with wood screws or with the metal corner brackets. Repeat this process with the remaining cedar boards until you create 2 wooden rectangles, each measuring 8’ in length by 4’ in width. Once your beds are assembled, carry them a sunny spot in your garden and place them where you want your raised beds before you begin filling them. Filling Your Vegetable Garden Beds Of course, you can fill each bed with packaged gardening mix, but you may find it gets a bit pricey. You can also create your own more cost-effective planting medium very easily. Start by adding a thick layer of newspaper or flattened cardboard across the bottom of your raised garden box. This will help prevent weeds and grass from growing up into your planter. Then, add alternating layers of peat moss, compost, aged manure or barn litter, and topsoil. For the last two years, I have used nothing but aged horse manure. If you have a horse or horses, start saving their by products now. Age it for 6-12 months before using on your garden. You can add additional amendments, such as bone meal or a slow-release organic fertilizer, once you decide which plants you want to grow. If you prepare and fill your raised beds in the fall, simply cover them with dark plastic to “cook down” all winter. You will be rewarded with beautiful rich soil in the spring, but it will be quite a bit lower than you remember, so be extra generous when filling the beds. An extra foot of material in the fall, means a full bed in the spring. If you assemble your raised vegetable garden bed in the spring, you can plant right into the layered mixture. Over time, the layers will break down to form a rich soil. In the near term, your plants will do just fine in it as long as you don’t use fresh compost, manure or barn litter, all of which can “burn” your plants. Any animal waste material should be at least 6 months old before using them in your gardens. As you can see, learning how to build a raised vegetable garden bed isn’t difficult. If you follow these easy instructions, you can look forward to years of more rewarding and efficient gardening.
Raised beds make gardening easier in many ways. They help you solve issues with your soil, aid in controlling pests, improve the amount of produce you can harvest in a small area. They’re, also, great at reducing weeds and help conserve water.
Any plant that loves well-drained soil can benefit from being grown in raised beds. You don’t have to only grow vegetables. You can also easily grow herbs, fruits, and flowers in raised beds, thus making your job easier.
In raised bed gardening, the soil is usually put into frames that are about three or four feet wide and 12 feet in length. The soil is generally enriched with compost, and is added to a frame made of wood or other material.
The plants in raised bed gardening are planted much closer together than the plants in a traditional garden. This allows the plants to conserve moisture and also help block the sun from allowing weeds to germinate and grow.
Raised beds can be used to extend the growing season, making it easier to start seeds outdoors earlier, and grow later in the season. This is a great way to get even more produce out of the area in a season.
If you have soil problems in your garden, you can use raised beds and just bypass your own soil completely. If you start with completely fresh soil, it doesn’t matter what type of soil you had in your garden to begin with.
Another great benefit of raised bed gardening is the fact that the gardener doesn’t walk on the soil in which the plants are growing. This helps prevent the soil from being packed down, so the roots can grow through the soil more readily.
You don’t need to till the soil under a raised bed if you don’t want to. This is very beneficial for people who can’t afford a tiller, or who aren’t physically capable of handling a piece of machinery like this.
You won’t have to water raised beds as often as you would a traditional garden. The soil in raised beds is designed specifically to hold on to water, so you can water less often and in smaller quantities. This is great for conserving water and saving money.
Frames can be built on top of plywood bases, and then raised to any height. This allows handicapped and elderly people to easily reach their plants to tend to them. For people in wheelchairs, this could be one of the only ways they can garden well.
Diseases and pests are easier to control in raised beds. Since you’re starting with fresh soil, it’s less likely to be contaminated with diseases that could infect your plants. If your plants do become infected, you can simple dispose of the soil in that bed and start again from scratch.
Pests are easier to control, because plants are in a more confined area. This makes it much easier to spot potential problems, and it also makes it easier to get rid of potential problems before they take over your entire garden.
A full report on growing fresh vegetables and turning them into food saving ideas for your family food budget. Learning to use the food that you grow, can produce better meals for your family and leave you smiling. While using them the right way can save you money in your food budget, trying new recipes instead of the same old ones, can make you a queen in the eyes of your family and friends.
Here are ￼6 top reasons to Grow What You Eat.
 You control the fertilizer and pesticides.
You do not have to wonder if your food is organic or not, as you have controlled everything that was in the soil or put on your plants as you grow what you eat.
Once you have your beds set up the right way, they take very little up keep as compared to traditional gardening.
 It’s fun to get your hands dirty and have something to show for it.
There are few things in life that give you the feelings you get when that first tomato ripens or you pull your first onion for the still cool soil of spring.
 Your food budget gets smaller while your smile gets brighter. Replace 4 store bought food items with 4 home grown items and easily save up to 15% on your grocery budget.
Just by replacing potatoes, tomatoes, onions, lettuce or other salad greens, fresh herbs and peas with your home grown ones, you can start saving for that new car. None of the before mentioned vegetables or plants are hard to grow. Once they are in the soil, they will grow with little help, except for watering a couple times a week.
 Better tasting recipes.
You will notice the change in the flavor of your food, with the first recipe using your fresh from the garden food items. The potatoes will cook quicker because their moisture content hasn’t dried out in the 2000 mile journey they normally would have had to take to get from the garden to your table. The salads will taste fresher and look much brighter in their color. The tomatoes will taste sweeter and have more juice when cooking your red sauce. The aroma of the herbs will fill your garden and give you ideas on what to make for your next meal.
 Your friends and neighbors will be green with envy over the fact that you know how to grow what you eat. When you can grow what you eat, it brings a peaceful feeling into your life. You have more control in other parts of your family life. It gives you and those you love a common interest and sharing of ideas as you watch your plants grow, then finally sharing a meal that wouldn’t have happened if no one hadn’t dropped that first seed in the soil, on a cool day last spring.
There are many more reasons to learn how to grow what you eat, these are only a few of the more important ones.
Seed saving for your future gardens is a great way of guaranteeing you will have the beginning of a beautiful garden.
I love the idea of saving seeds from this year’s crop, for next year’s planting. I choose several of the best looking tomatoes, peppers and okra to be set aside for this purpose. As I plant several varieties of these, I have to be careful not to mix them up, so planning ahead for storage of my seeds is important.
I found an excellent blog post on this subject that I thought I would pass along to you.
When vegetable gardening year after year, you will learn different ways to do seed saving. I can remember my grandmother Laura, using a large sewing needle to string beans in their hulls, then hanging them at one end of the kitchen porch to dry. When they were dried, she would then take them to the basement to spend the winter, until it was time to plant them in the spring. I don’t have that basement, so most of my seed saving is done with small jars or envelopes.
Keeping your seeds in a dry contain, then storing them in a cool basement or other storage area out of direct sun will help ensure their ability to sprout and grow into food producing plants.
Turning seed saving into an art will be a big factor in your becoming a master at providing organic food for you, your family and friends.
One of the main virtues of a kitchen garden is accessibility. It should be easy to grab the items you need from it, to help you prepare your daily meals. Therefore, it should be located as close to your food preparation area as possible.
Kitchen gardens are smaller than traditional gardens because they are position close to the house where space is usually limited. This isn’t always the case, of course, but having a culinary garden close enough to offer easy access while you are cooking may limit the amount of space available. Imagine you are preparing dinner when you realize you need a little Rosemary or Basil to make your recipe, just right. Being able to step just outside your kitchen door to get it, is far better than having to trek out to your large vegetable garden, while you have pots cooking on the stove. With a kitchen garden, the easier it is to grab what you need while you are cooking, the better.
A regular vegetable garden is about planning for the future, while a kitchen garden is about enjoying fresh items for your meals, today. The fruits and vegetables you plan to preserve for future use, such as corn, that take up a lot of space, are good choices for a traditional vegetable garden where space is at less of a premium.
Kitchen gardens are normally filled with the items you prepare and eat while fresh. Therefore, containers of fresh herbs, cherry tomato plants, or an assortment of leaf lettuces, all make great additions to a kitchen garden. If you lack the space for a larger traditional garden, a small kitchen garden, even done in containers, can keep you in fresh, delicious produce all season long.
Size and Beauty
While a standard vegetable garden is all about utility and production, part of the charm of a kitchen garden comes from its beauty aspect. Due to its closeness to the home, a kitchen garden is harder to tuck out of sight than a larger garden. You can often design them to add a sense of beauty to your home, as well.
In the past I have used beets, radishes, carrots, Basil and Rosemary to form a border around my patio. The greenery and fragrance add a delightful look and aroma to any home.
As you can see, a kitchen garden offers both convenience and beauty in a compact spaces. The best part being, it doesn’t take much to get one started. All you need is a couple of feet of dirt or a few large containers, some fresh herbs starts, a cherry tomato plant and a couple packs of seeds of your favorite radish and lettuce.
Our easy gardening methods as compared to the old fashion gardening the way your grandparents did it with a hoe, a shovel and a prayer. Old-fashioned gardening required lots of room, work and attention. Times have changed dramatically with today’s four methods for easy gardening.
- Lasagna Gardening
In spite of it’s name, lasagna garden has nothing to do with an Italian dinner. It is a method of easy gardening that turns your kitchen waste, leaves, grass clippings and old newspapers into rich, healthy compost without a lot of work. When the leaves start falling, gather them up and layer them over your Spring garden site. Add vegetable peelings, grass clippings, coffee grounds and a few inches of sawdust and/or newspapers. Cover the bed with cardboard, then a large piece of plastic and watch it as it shrinks down into compost.
The downside is this method of creating a rich compost right on your gardening spot, is it might take more than one season to convert your scraps into compost, which can be a negative point if you are in a hurry. Adding a few Earthworms will speed up the process.
- Square Foot Gardening
Easy gardening the Square Foot method, can make a great difference in your gardening activities because it does not require a lot of tools to toil the soil. Because you garden in one square foot at a time, you don’t have as many weed problems and the ground doesn’t get compacted easily. Careful soil mixtures will increase the water-holding abilities of the squares while decreasing the need for additional water. Plant diseases do not spread as easily in square foot gardens, either.
- No Dig Method
No-dig methods allows nature to carry out your cultivating operations. Placing different organic matters, such as well rotted manure, compost, leaf mold, spent mushroom compost, old straw, etc., directly onto the soil surface as a mulch at least 2–6 inches deep, which is then given to the actions of worms, insects and microbes. Another no-dig method is sheet mulching wherein a garden area is covered with wet newspaper or cardboard, compost and topped off with mulch. No-dig gardens can be grown over a lawn, on concrete or cardboard, if there is no need for a deep root system. The problem will be keeping the snails off your young vegetation.
- Intensive Or Raised Bed Gardening
This method is a system of raised beds that allows you to concentrate the soil in small areas, generally 4 feet by 8 feet, creating an environment for growing vegetables. Raised beds warm up more quickly in the spring and by covering them, it will allow you to grow vegetables for a longer time frame, early spring to late fall.
Easy Gardening Tip
Pests are usually fairly crop-specific. They prefer vegetables of one type or family. Mixing families of plants helps to break up large pest-preferred crops and keeps early pest damage within a small area.
As you can see, there are more methods of easy gardening than there is of the traditional hard way. If one of these appeals to you, find out more about it and then “dig in”.
It’s the first week of August and while it may not seem to be Fall on the calendar, the cool crisp morning air, marks the beginning of the Fall harvest season in the northern hemisphere.
Taking Inventory Before My Fall Harvest
While I was walking my community garden yesterday, I saw, Sunflowers standing tall, inviting the birds to partake of it’s seed before heading south.
I saw the last of the cucumbers plants dying out, the third planting of green beans beginning to bloom and the first pumpkin turning it’s bright orange color, signaling fall harvest time is near.
My little garden has brought a lot of pleasure into my life, given me much needed exercise, provided me with all the fresh food I needed over the last few months and with canning some of them, I’ll still be using the food well into the coming new year. I am grateful for every pea, radish, green bean, potato and tomato it has blessed me with this year. The best part at this time of the year is, it’s not over.
- Planting A Fall Garden
In the coming week I will plant my Fall garden with another crop of broccoli, cucumbers, beans, onions, and sugar snap peas. Most of these will be harvested before November and it’s colder weather hits my Northeast Tennessee community. Planting a Fall garden is a little different from planting a Spring garden but just as exciting. Cold weather plants provide us with the produce for many hearty winter meals.
You can find several recipes for these wonderful Fall harvest vegetables, here.
Being part of a Fall Harvest means fun to many people. After all the hard work is done, there can be hay rides, pumpkin carving contests, harvest celebrations with music, dancing and food,,lots of food. Pumpkin pie and Grannie’s Apple Stack Cake, to name a couple of my favorites.
Just because the days are getting shorter and cooler, is not a reason to give up on your garden. Fall Harvest season is the reward for all the work you have done through out the year in your vegetable garden.
You have decided to give gardening a try, so like most new gardeners, you have been reading gardening magazines and dreaming of building a garden that will make you the envy of all your neighbors.
All of that is great practice for any new gardener, but let me warn you that before you start, soon you will think, the forces of nature are your true enemies, regardless of how you carefully build your flower or vegetable beds. As much as you care about your seedlings and baby plants, you will soon start to believe an evil force is plotting against you and your gardens.
New Gardeners Law #1… No matter what you do, and how well you do it, it can still all go wrong!
It’s not your fault though after all how were you to know it would snow in May? Or that a drought would cover the land the summer your sprinkler system decided to take a nose dive? Gardening is about a lot of dreams and woulda, coulda, shoulda…with 20 20 hindsight.
New Gardeners Law #2… Planting your seeds in early spring.
You have cultivated, raked and sowed your seeds, only to see them being washed three houses down the street when a rain storm pours 2 inches of rain on your garden, within an hour. It was the worse downpour in your area in the last 10 years. So after cleaning up your garden you try it again, same results. Oh well, maybe the third time is a charm…. Maybe.
New Gardeners Law #3…
You plant your corn and other vegetables, inside a fenced area to keep the deer from eating it faster than you can pick it. Only to realize, no one ever told you that, yes, deer can and do jump fences, to eat anything and everything in your garden, without as much as a thank you.
Don’t despair new gardeners, if you use a little humor, ok, a lot of humor, all will be well in the end.
You will get the hang of gardening, you will produce something for your family to eat and you will become the envy of all your neighbors. As with most things in life, it takes time, practice and effort to go from being a new gardener to become the expert all new gardeners come to for advice. Keep smiling!
Hey! Vegetable Gardener, Have I got an app for you? If you love vegetables gardening and like having your questions answered quickly, have I got an app for you or maybe I should say apps. Here are a five apps geared for a vegetable gardener that will educate and delight you for a better vegetable gardening experience. We normally think of gardening as getting physical outside and to be as far from our phones as possible activity, right? But keep in mind that these apps can educate you on various aspects of becoming a better vegetable gardener and make your vegetable gardening life a lot easier.
Apps for the vegetable gardener:
- Gardening Plant Care Videos. All the How To videos you could want, in your own personal library. This app has just about everything from lettuce harvesting, tips to how to graft a fruit tree, or how to grow vegetables upside down.
- Garden Compass. One neat thing you can do with this app is take a picture of a plant or problem/pest you want identified, send it to their experts and you will get a response within 24 hours.
- Vegetable Garden Planner. Want to know how many seeds or seedlings to plant to feed your family? This is the app for you. No more planting enough to feed an army, unless you want to feed an army.
- Vegetable Gardening. This app provides an all-around education including, when and how to start, how to plant, how to harvest and what to do with your harvest (canning, cooking, freezing, drying, pickling and eating). It can even show you how to create a root cellar and how to grow herbs indoors.
- eWeather HD. You can see your current temperature and precise hourly forecasts. It even has a radar screen. As a gardener, you know how quickly a hard freeze or hail can damage your tender plants.
We all know, an app can’t become human and won’t grow our veggies for us but as a vegetable gardener we also know, there is no substitution for getting out there and getting our hands dirty. With each planting season, gardeners not only learn to grow vegetables but to grow with experience for the next season of vegetable gardening. Using new tools will keep you gardening easier not harder. If a phone app can help you in any way to become a better vegetable gardener, then go for it, is what I say.