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Fertile Fridays: Preparing Our Raised Garden Beds For Growing

How will you grow this year? Here’s how to make anchored raised garden beds, perfect for growing in challenging areas.

When the warm weather started to roll around last year, gas prices were rising so fast that they kept me up at night. I worried that the high fuel costs would translate to crisis for food costs and other expenses. That got me thinking about growing our own food in our backyard as a way to control costs. So, after learning about gardening in raised beds, I decided to do that — I mean, build some — in my backyard.

Oh, I had some seriously huge plans for the raised garden beds in our backyard. I envisioned tall tomato plants, leaning on posts to support the massive weight of their fruits and lush basil plants to season pretty much everything I cooked. Oh, it was going to be grand.

Unfortunately, after building the four raised beds and burying three of them, time got away from us. The boxes were never lined or filled with soil. The project sat there in the rear of our yard … abandoned.

Yes, it was quite pretty. Really.

But this year, things are different. The kids are older and can play more independently in the yard. We have a swing set and outdoor toys to keep them occupied as well. Plus, they are both interested in what we are doing in these giant boxes (that’s Will up above, trying to weed one of the boxes before we tacked the liner in. He is a huge helper). Also, Shawn and I are more interested in being healthy and all the yard work we do is a workout. It’s a fantastic payoff for making our yard look better.

So, this week we set to work finishing last year’s project. First, we cleared debris from the boxes. Then we lined then and filled them with rich, fertile soil that came from impromptu compost piles. Why impromptu? Because we had no intention (or realization) that we were making compost when we dumped lawn clippings in the treeline. It was a happy surprise to find all that free soil ready for the growing.

Over the coming weeks, we will plant in the boxes – tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and more … and we will see where this takes us. I would love to have a fantastic growing season and put up whatever remains in the fall to carry us through winter. But for now, I am taking it one day at a time. Each day that we work on maintaining those boxes is better than we did last year.

Will we be successful? Only time will tell.

I plan to write about our growing adventures on Fridays from now until … well, until things stop growing, I suppose. Hopefully, sharing it with all of you will keep me honest about growing something great in our backyard.

How to create and prepare raised garden beds for growing

Step one: Build the boxes for the raised beds.

Step two: Line the boxes for the raised beds with something to keep weeds out and also separate the soil from whatever is below.

Step three: Fill the boxes with rich, fertile soil.

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Tuesday 16th of March 2010

[...] about our gardens to come. My friends and family have asked again and again what we plan to grow in our raised garden beds this summer. My answer is still a little vague, but there are some certainties: tomatoes (yes, [...]

Freda Gore

Tuesday 21st of April 2009

I Love vegetable gardening, As a girl growing up on the Caribbean Island of Dominica and later Antigua I always had a small spot on my family farm. This summer I am planning to start one with my daughter and we have started collecting wooden grape boxes from our local supermarket, they are just the right size to move around our yard. We are also using plastic buckets from our local bakery as planters,( they come in bright yellow and white color) recycle and save the earth that's the lesson I am trying to teach her and learn myself. We will be following your garden this summer so keep the tips andd photos coming, I just wanted to say your kids are beautiful and I love your blog. Thanks Freda


Sunday 19th of April 2009

Love this project. We have a sandbox that I cleared of sand last spring & began the same planting venture. Unfortunately, our venture turned out to be disastrous and everything we planted either died or got eaten by mysterious creatures. May your venture be much more successful!!

Sarah Caron

Sunday 19th of April 2009

Cate, that sounds like a good start. I did a lot of transplanting today and it was actually pretty easy. Hopefully everything will take.

Kalyn, when will the sprinkler system go back in? Oh my! Your growing in past seasons was so amazing -- I love seeing the progress. I hope you get planted soon.

Virtual Frolic, can you grow lemons here? I would LOVE an avocado tree ... somehow I don't think that would fly in CT though. Or grow, for that matter.

Tonia, my garden has been on every side of my house, but I am hoping these dedicated boxes with fresh soil will do the trick. And for the first time, I have my entire flower bed planted already ... mostly with flowers too. So excited to see everything grow.

I cannot tell you all how tired I am tonight! It was a big day in the garden here.


Saturday 18th of April 2009

You're off to a great start Sarah. We've decide to do our garden in the flowerbeds that line one side of our house. We're still pretty new at this too, so it's the perfect spot to help us keep it well under control.