The tricks and secrets to building, planting, and growing a high yield raised bed vegetable garden. A master gardener shares his best tips.
Nope. You’re not lost. I am, in fact, sharing a post about gardening. Is this the Twilight Zone? I think it might be.
I’ve mentioned my continuous plight before- the curse of the black thumb. (That sounds like a movie Johnny Depp could star in. Oh, wait…)
Six years ago, I shared this post about our cheap DIY raised garden beds in the backyard of our old house because my dad, Hank, is the KING of high yield raised bed gardening.
Somehow, that skipped a generation with me. But anyways…
Since visiting my parents’ house so many times this summer, I realized his tutorial sharing all of his raised bed gardening secrets definitely needed another moment in the spotlight for any of you who have ever wanted to learn how to plant your own thriving vegetable garden.
So that even those among the most “black thumbest” (that’s totally a word) can grow a gorgeous vegetable garden
My dad helped me write this tutorial back in summer of 2016, and all these years later, his expertise is still paying off.
Starting a vegetable garden and harvesting vegetables is one of Olivia and Regan’s favorite things to do at “Grandmama and Grandaddy’s” house all these years later.
(I can’t get over that the sweet baby face Olivia in this above photo is now my 9 year-old Olivia harvesting potatoes with him today.)
Why Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening?
The benefit of raised bed gardening versus planting directly into your yard’s soil is having more control over the health of your gardening soil to grow crops for your family. Raised beds help plant roots grow deeper and wider, and soil can be enriched with compost.
Structures can be built in a variety of sizes and shapes to best suit your backyard and can be made of concrete, rock, or wood.
How to Plant a Raised Bed Organic Vegetable Garden
These are the steps we used on the raised bed in our last house, and they’ve more than proven themselves over the years!
This method is completely organic so that you can produce the healthiest vegetables with the highest yield possible. It’s best to build this type of garden in early spring for growing vegetables through summer and into fall.
Choosing the Right Garden Space Location and Size
Walk around your backyard and pay attention to where the sunlight hits it at various times of the day. Plan to place your raised bed where it will receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.
Choose a level surface if possible, or plan to grade the area to become level. Avoid planting near trees so plants won’t be competing with tree roots for growth.
Vegetable Garden Supplies Needed
- 2- 2x12x12 pine boards
- Circular saw or table saw (optional – see Step 1)
- 1 bag of Peat Moss
- 2 bags of Vermiculite
- 4 bags of Black Kow Compost
- 4 bags of Mushroom Compost
- Lime powder
- Tomato Cages
- Power Drill
- Decking Screws
- Plastic Tarp
- Vegetable plants of your choice
Best Vegetable Plants for Beginners
- swiss chard
- green beans
- green onion
- and herbs like basil, mint, oregano, thyme, rosemary, chives, cilantro
Best Vegetable Plants for Intermediate Gardeners
Tip: Planting marigolds around your garden can help keep deer, rabbits, and plant-destroying insects away.
Oh, and maybe coercing a couple of strapping guys would be helpful if you happen to have them on hand somewhere. 😉 But that’s optional.
Step 1 – Plan Your Vegetable Garden Raised Bed Size and Cut Boards
(Optional: If you’re not into braving power tools, Lowe’s can usually do the wood cutting for you.)
For the frame of the raised bed, cut two boards to 2 4′ lengths and 2 8′ lengths and lay them on the ground where you’d like to position the raised bed.
It’s best to build raised beds between 3-4′ width so that plants are within arm’s reach from the sides for tending.
Step 2 – Place Cardboard Base and Attach Boards
This is a great cheap DIY raised garden bed trick! Place sheets of old cardboard underneath the boards and attach the boards together at the corners with decking screws using your power drill. No need to buy landscaping fabric; just recycle the cardboard you have from old boxes. Cardboard is naturally rot resistant.
And your box should end up looking something like this. The cardboard will break down over time, but it acts as a barrier to keep the weeds out.
Step 3 – Mix Soil, Compost, Vermiculite, and Peat Moss
Then for the soil, pour all of the different types of compost, vermiculite, and peat moss onto the tarp and mix it thoroughly. Y
ou can use the tarp as a tool to mix all of it together rather than a shovel by folding the corners of the tarp in and out and dumping it in the box. Be sure to work in batches.
Step 4 – Till Soil Mixture
When all of the bags are mixed into the box, till it thoroughly for even better distribution.
Step 5 – Plan Your Plant Placement
Then, decide on the placement of your plants.
We decided on Early Girl tomatoes, Celebrity tomatoes, Grape Cherry tomatoes, basil, zucchini, summer squash, Hot Golden Cayenne peppers, Sweet Banana peppers, and Mammoth jalapenos.
Step 6 – Dig Holes and Pour in Lime Powder
Dig the holes for your plants and pour the lime powder into them.
Step 7 – Plant Your Plants
Recruit little hands as needed for planting. 😉 Just be sure those little hands are placing the root ball of the plant into the hole.
Olivia absolutely loved getting her hands in that dirt with Robert…
…and her super awesome gardener grandaddy who is way better at showing her the ropes than I am when it comes to the outdoors.
Step 8 – Plant Marigolds for Parasite Prevention
To help repel aphids and other parasites from our garden, we placed marigolds between the plants.
We planted basil in between our tomato plants too to repel bugs and provide extra nutrients that the tomatoes need.
If needed, add tomato cages, which you can find at most hardware stores.
Step 9 – Water Thoroughly and Frequently
Once everything was planted, we watered it well. And then we sang to our little plants and whispered sweet nothings to our new garden. (Or at least Olivia did.)
It’s best to water your raised bed vegetable garden in the mornings 3-4 times per week (about an inch of water total per week, whether from rain or irrigation).
So there you go. I’m over here just trying to keep my kids fed and alive while my dad has basically become a farmer (and my mom channels Paula Deen with all of the produce he grows in their kitchen). Haha!
I really am in awe of how much his hard work has produced.
Have you ever planted a raised bed garden or vegetable garden? Or are you a plant murderer like me?
In any case, I hope this helps.
Meanwhile, I’ll just be over here sneaking summer tomatoes out of my parents’ garden and telling them the deer did it. Kidding. 😆
Have you planted anything in an above ground garden lately that you’re excited about yet or working on building a raised garden? Or do you have any gardening tips you’d be willing to share? We’re all ears here!
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