One of the reasons I wanted to share these pictures is to encourage anyone who doesn’t have space for an outdoor garden but wants to grow a few things.
This year I had five 4 x 8 raised beds and four 4 x 4 raised beds. Vince has built two more raised beds so now I have seven. I would love to have about 20 raised beds but I doubt we ever get to that point. The ground here is solid rock with about 4″ of soil/dirt on top.
If you don’t want to build raised beds or have someone do it, there are 4 x 8 raised beds available for purchasing. These are at Amazon are 4′ x 8′, which are the size Vince made for us but they’re 1′ tall where ours are about 16″ tall. I wouldn’t have a problem with 1′ tall but I’ve never used these. The price seems good – $139. These seem great too, even though the price is quite a bit more.
When Vince makes them, he uses 12 – 4″ x 8′ landscape timbers. They’re right at $5 each ($60) and he pays about $100 for nails that will make two beds with a few left over so, the cost of materials to make a 4′ x 8′ raised bed is about $110, not including the cost of the soil to fill it.
Chad cuts trees and has a sawmill near him so he gets cedar milled to 1″ x 6′ and uses 3″ x 3″ cedar posts that he cuts for corners and enforcing the length. Vince said Chad saves by cutting the trees and having them milled but if you had to buy the wood for those, they would be more expensive.
For containers, I mostly use grow bags, which, like everything else, were a bit more reasonably priced a few years ago.
Advantages to Raised Bed/Container Gardening:
- For those of us with husbands who aren’t interested in gardening, we don’t have to keep hounding them to get the garden tilled. Once the raised beds are built/installed, and soil is added, there’s not a lot that can’t be done on my own.
- I have way less weed issues with the raised beds/containers.
- If one plant needs extra attention, it can be isolated and cared for as needed.
- Seeds can be started indoors either in a greenhouse or under grow lights and can be transplanted as they grow. If they will be grown in containers, they can get as big as you want them to get before weather permits moving them outside (since they aren’t being removed/repotted).
- Once frost threatens, the life of plants still producing can be extended by moving them to a protected area.
Disadvantages to Raised Bed/Container Gardening:
- Plants in containers will dry out much faster than those planted directly in the ground. Mulching the top helps but water still drains through the grow bags.
In my five 4 x 8 raised beds, here’s what I grow.
- Asparagus. This stays. It’s planted. I will thin it out probably in the spring but otherwise, I cut it back in the Fall, mulch it and then in the early spring, I start fertilizing.
- Same as #1 but it’s sparsely planted and whatever I dig out of the first bed next year, I will add to this bed.
- I plant garlic on or about October 1; harvest that the first week in June and plant okra, then pull it all out in time to get garlic replanted in October.
- Same as #3 for the garlic but once the garlic is harvested, I’ll probably plant some kind of beans.
- This is a new bed and I will try planting amaranth.
- Same as #6 but I will use a different variety of amaranth.
In the 4 x 4 beds, I have:
- Sweet potatoes. In the future I will grow those in the 4 x 4 bins I got from the neighbor.
- Horseradish and eggplant (two of each).
- Walking Onions.
In grow bags, I grew:
- Potatoes (30 gallon) Note: Once they’re filled with dirty, they are hard to move. They’re so heavy, they will tear.
- Peppers (5 gallon for smaller varieties/7 gallon for larger varieties).
- Tomatoes (Determinate in 7 gallon; indeterminate in 10 gallon)
I harvested more tomatoes this year than ever before. I can’t say why but growing them in bags definitely was not a problem.
I’ve had a little break from working hard in the garden every day and have enjoyed the extra time to do other things but I’m anxious to get a new garden planted in the spring.