Raised Bed Gardening: Perfect For City Living

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Gardening

I never really thought about a garden. I have seen people garden and I have thought about it, but never had the courage to jump on that bandwagon, that is until.. this year. I am getting older (yes I just admitted that out loud, publicly) and there are less things to do. We are more home bodies then we really have ever been. We enjoy being home. We enjoy doing things around our home. We also eat A LOT of produce. I make 2-3 trips a week, JUST to restock produce. I’ve finally started buying in bulk and freezing some, which has made it easier.

I decided with all that to mentioned to my husband I wanted a garden.

He looked at me and said “We live in the city and have 6 feet around each side of the house.”

While he is exaggerating some, one side is all a hill so it’s pretty useless for this and one side is the driveway and the area the kids play, there is about 10 feet in the back of the house. Legally we have to leave 2 feet between anything and the lot line, so that gave me about 8 feet to work with. We have a shed in the back that in 6ftx4ft. So I thought right next to that shed would be perfect. When I said I wanted a 4ftx8ft garden he looked at me with a puzzled look.

I then got the reply “What are you planting; Beans and peas?”

So I took the liberty of explaining a raised bed garden and pointing out the advantages of a raised bed garden to him. It took only a moment and he was on board and began looking to see if he had the supplies or if we needed to gather more supplies. Turns out it was all a very quick process. We had everything here other then the black dirt. Assembly started and within 30 minutes I had a raised bed garden. I was so excited for the process to start! I looked up the produce we eat and how easy/hard it was to grow. I also looked up other things that would fill in the empty spaces I had in my “garden sketch”. I was sure to detail every thing from when to start the seedlings in the nursery to the pH level for the soil to the sun/shade level of each plant.

What is a Raised Bed Garden?

A raised bed garden is a garden which is built up (mine is 6 inches high, others I know have done 4 inches high or used containers) with wood (or other materials) and 3 to 4 feet deep with soil. Since they are above ground and they reduce the need to use poor native soil, they reduce or eliminate the weeds and they can extend the planting season. There are a lot of different ways to do your raised bed garden, so please look things up and make a game plan before starting. It will save you a lot of trouble in the end.

Benefits of a Raised Bed Garden

There are a ton of benefits to having a raised bed garden versus a traditional garden. The biggest benefit for us is that with very little space, we can still have a garden that is going to grow and produce a lot of food for the very minimal space that it requires. But some of the other benefits are:

  • Vegetable plants are spaced in geometric patterns or rows and can be much closer together then a traditional garden. Spacing is minimal and done so that when the vegetables are fully grown, their leaves just barely touch each other. This creates a microclimate in which weed growth is suppressed and moisture is conserved. This also means that yields go up. 
  • A big one for me is that waist high raised beds enable the elderly and physically disabled to grow vegetables without having to bend over to tend them.
  • Bad dirt is eliminated because you fill your raised bed with a custom dirt and compost that you desire.
  • Water use efficiency is maximized.
  • Drainage is built into the bed walls, which hold the soil in place to reduce or eliminate erosion.
  • Greater exposure to the sun warms the bed, which allows more plant diversity and extends your growing season.
  • Since the gardener does not walk on the raised beds, the soil is not compacted and the roots have an easier time growing.

What Can I Plant in a Raised Bed Garden?

That answer is endless. You can really plant anything in your raised bed garden that you would plant in a traditional garden. Your possibilities are endless. Currently in my garden I have:

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Carrot – I think we lost these. No signs of sprouting.
  • Cucumber
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Spinach (LOTS of spinach)
  • Tomato
  • Sweet Peppers – Mixed Variety
  • Sweet Banana Peppers
  • Orange Peppers
  • Green Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Asparagus
  • Rhubarb
  • Kohlrabi

It’s all growing very very well.. have a look!

Beans

Beans

Broccoli

Broccoli

Spinach

Spinach

Peas

Peas

Peppers

Peppers

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Tomato

Tomato

Zucchini

Zucchini

We have a lot of stuff that is growing and a lot of stuff that is just breaking through. I started everything from seeds in a nursery bed in my kitchen. Since in Wisconsin we have a later start season, we thought it would be best to start earlier in the house. We did have two days that to got down to about 30 degrees so of course that frosted. I don’t think we lost anything. We covered it up. It seemed okay afterwards. We also didn’t put the little fence up and of course I hand fed a baby bunny (poor mother and the rest of the siblings were attacked by the neighbors dog and he was just barely born and our local humane shelter didn’t care) years ago and he lives under the shed. So he helped himself to the garden. It appears he may have dug up the carrot seeds, but didn’t touch anything else. I am not sure he even dug those up because the holes were not deep enough.

Our Raised Bed Garden

Our Raised Bed Garden

I am anxiously looking forward to the crops that we get from out little garden. It looks like things are growing pretty well. Those spaces you see in the middle that appear empty are some spinach (I added way more since we eat a lot of it) and sweet pepper seeds, which take 6-8 weeks to pop through. They are sprouting, they are just not through the dirt yet. We have about 12 ten pound bags of garden soil. We are working on making compost with a few things like grass clippings, fruit peels, etc. So that will be added and will help with growth throughout the growing season.

Do you garden? Do you have a traditional garden or did you plunge in and do a raised bed garden? Have you thought about a garden? Any special green thumb tips you’d like to share?

Comments

57 Responses to “Raised Bed Gardening: Perfect For City Living”

  1. May 26, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Is it too late to start a garden this year? I love the idea of a raised garden- less strain on your back!

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:59 pm

      Carly, It depends on what zone you are in. If you are starting from seed it might be a bit too late, but you can get plants from a nursery for pretty cheap and since they are already passed the seedling state, you would be fine to start this year!!

  2. May 26, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    I always say that I don’t garden because I have bad soil. Now I don’t have an excuse ;)

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      This is true Robin! We have bad soil here, so this works perfect for us! I am glad I can remove that problem and still grow!

  3. May 26, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    We need to do this. Our soil really is terrible and erodes like crazy! We need to build up a raised bed!

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      This TOTALLY helps with the bad soil. That was a big problem for us!

  4. May 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    I am so jealous! I tried to grow vegetables in my apartment, what a bad idea. I miss having a little garden! Yours looks great!
    Mitch

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      Thanks Mitch! I know there are people that container garden. Perhaps that would work good for an apartment. What happened when you tried to grow them?

      • May 27, 2014 at 4:35 pm

        You never saw a carrot so small after 4 months! And forget about the tomato. Singualr. I did not know I had to mate the flowers!

        • Bobbie
          May 29, 2014 at 10:51 pm

          Haha!! I’m sorry, I shouldn’t laugh. This is my first go, so I might end up with ONE tomato! Only time will tell. I can tell you that I can’t in any way grow flowers. I kill them!! I don’t know why!

  5. May 26, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    I always say I am going to make raised bed because our soil is awful

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      I didn’t realize that so many people had bad soil. I know we do, but I thought it was pretty uncommon. Maybe this is why raised beds are really starting to become more and more popular.

  6. May 26, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    I’m pretty interested in this topic since I know nothing about gardening! I hope I can grow flowers and food soon!

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      I cannot grow flowers! I don’t know why! LOL I kill them off every single time. I am much luckier with the food though! I hope it continues to grow well.

  7. May 26, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    I had one of these at my last home. I built it myself from leftover bricks and planted herbs and veggies

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      Veronica, I read that you can use bricks and other things. I didn’t realize that till after I had mine done, but we used leftover materials, so it was cost effective anyway!

  8. May 26, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Your little garden looks adoreable. I bet you can’t wait to harvest your vegetables. I have been thinking about doing raised bed gardening.

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      I can’t wait!! I am so excited!

  9. May 26, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Your garden looks beautiful!! Someday I want to do a large bed like that. For now I’m just starting with a small container garden..baby steps, baby steps!! :)

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      Beeb, I agree. Most people do things in smaller baby steps. I jumped right in without any wings! Had I done a bit more research I still would have done it, but I would have changed a few things and definitely built the garden up. Next year we are going to raise it up higher so there is less bending for me.

      • May 27, 2014 at 8:57 pm

        I think sometimes it’s good to just jump in! I’ve been stopping and starting with container gardens for years and I’ve never gotten to expanding anything, lol! Raising it up is a good idea, it’s nice to not have to stoop down. For most of the time I’ve had container gardens, I wouldn’t have been capable of kneeling down in the first place, lol!

        • Bobbie
          May 29, 2014 at 10:52 pm

          How long have you done the container gardening? Have you been successful with the containers? What have you grown? I’m curious!!

          • May 30, 2014 at 11:15 am

            VERY sporadically since 2008, LOL! I started with garlic, which is easy peasy, and then I moved into container gardens with corn salad, radishes, fava beans, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, raspberries and carrots with very mixed results, because it was a lousy year for crops and I probably didn’t do as much as I should have anyway since I had health stuff going on. Right now I have a baby container garden on my windowsill with basil, tomatoes, and parsley – I still have my nice big planters outside and seeds to do more veggies, when I have time to deal with it, LOL! I have some garden stuff on my blog if you want to see more what I did with the containers and get a good laugh at the tiniest carrots ever:

            http://www.supercoupongirl.com/category/growing-produce/

  10. May 26, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    This is really a great idea. I have a few friends who have raised bed gardens and they love them. I do a little container gardening myself. Love yours though….it’s so cute!

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      Thanks Jenni. I seen container gardening too. That looks really unique and some of the things people do with the containers are so creative!!

  11. May 26, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    I live in an old country town and I so want one of these. One day one day. Thanks for your instructions…..that took a long time to prepare, didn’t it?

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      Kim, It didn’t take too long. My husband had it all built in about 30 minutes. Then they placed it, filled it with dirt and it was ready within an hour or so. It took me longer to transplant my veggies. I started them inside in small nursery beds, so I needed to transplant them.

  12. May 26, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    That is a great way to have a garden. Really nice.

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      Thanks Debbie!

  13. May 26, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    You did a very nice job, I would love to have a little yard in the city, I just have cement.

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      Oh no! I am so glad we have some areas of grass, except when we have to mow it!

  14. May 26, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    That’s a great-looking garden you’ve got there! Perfect for city living too.

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Thanks Amanda!

  15. May 26, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    What a great way to be able to garden almost anywhere you live! It also would be great for small yards or people like me who can only handle small spaces. haha

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Ashley, this is so true! I was afraid I would kill everything off. I cannot keep flowers alive, but alas, I am doing great with my small 4×8 garden. It’s all contained into a space I feel I can manage.

  16. May 26, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    This looks great! We have never had a raised-bed garden, but we may try it soon. Thank you so much for the tips and info.

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      No problem! If you run into questions along the way, let me know and I am happy to help!

  17. May 26, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    I haven’t had a garden in a few years but I love them. They are relaxing and I always enjoyed planting my pretty flowers. Never tried herbs or veggies though – I must one day! Great post, one of my fave subjects!

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Jeanine, I cannot for the life of me grow flowers, but I can grow some veggies! I think it would be very successful for you!

  18. May 26, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    We feel that we don’t have room for a garden, but this is in option! I would love to have my own produce.

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Kecia, I think everyone has room. This is a 4×8 but I think you could go smaller with no problem. I think growing my own produce is going to be great!

  19. May 26, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    I’ve been thinking about doing one of these. Good to hear it wasn’t terribly complicated!

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:43 pm

      It was pretty easy. While my husband DID make it, I could have done it. I think it would have taken me a bit more time, but it was pretty inexpensive and simple!

  20. May 27, 2014 at 7:53 am

    I want to build one of these too! What beautiful veggies you have!

    • Bobbie
      May 27, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      Christie, Once you start you will be addicted! It’s a really neat and fun thing. The KIDS love helping too!

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