I have gardened now for about 40 years – typically the old-fashioned way plowing up ground and planting directly into the soil.  This year, I am trying something different – raised bed gardening.  My back yard in West Central is pretty small, but one of my friends and her husband have a huge backyard.

So, with my gardening experience and their backyard, we decided to plant a garden.  We debated for a while about whether to plow up the yard or to try using raised beds, which are popular because they are easy to care for.  We finally decided on the raised beds.

The initial expense is more than the traditional method of simply plowing up a space and planting vegetables and plants.  We purchased lengths of pine, cut them to length, painted them with weather-resistant paint, put them together, and anchored the completed boxes in the ground in a nice, sunny location.

But that wasn’t the end of it.  We then had dirt brought in – 4 cubic yards – and had to fill the four boxes.  We planted a variety of items:  onions, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, squash, and beans.  So far we have had plenty of lettuce, but with the summer heat, the lettuce is about done.  Everything is growing at an amazing pace.

I have to say that I really like the raised beds – they are much easier to tend than a plowed garden.  I had gardened the old-fashioned way all my life and for many years had a 5-horsepower tiller. It was a great tiller, but it was big and hard to maneuver.   But when my boys were little, I gardened to can and freeze our food, and I needed a huge space.

The raised beds are more compact and are suitable for smaller yields.  The only downside I can see is the initial cost and work to put the “boxes” together and fill them with dirt.  Once done, though, the boxes will last for many years.

While we are hoping to have enough surplus to put some up for the winter, the yield isn’t meant to be the same as a traditional, large garden.  But, boy, I sure am looking forward to the rest of the garden-fresh vegetables, in particular, the tomatoes.  Nothing like a fresh tomato!

Raised bed with corn, cucumbers, and squash (our largest bed at 8 by 8)

Raised bed with corn, cucumbers, and squash (our largest bed at 8' by 8')

Rasied bed with lettuce (almost done), onions, and cabbage

Rasied bed with lettuce (almost done), onions, and cabbage

Raised bed with pole beans and bush beans

Raised bed with pole beans and bush beans

Raised bed with my favorite - tomatoes

Raised bed with my favorite - tomatoes

We are so thrilled with our first effort that we are already looking ahead to expanding our project for next year.  More beds, more healthy, home-grown veggies.  Could anything be better?


About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
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  1. Love raised bed gardens with a white picket fence surrounding them all. Reminds of a beautiful country
    cottage. Enjoy the gardening!

  2. Jim Wetzel says:

    Your raised beds look great. I’ve heard of people doing this, and I have a question for you: what is the advantage of the built-up bed, vs. “in-the-ground” gardening? In what way do the raised beds make things easier?

  3. Jim:

    If you don’t have a lot of space, they are ideal. They also – just from the short experience I have had – do not produce the crop of weeds that seem to appear in regular in-ground garden beds. That probably is because weed seeds winter over in the ground and are continuosly popping up during the growing season in a regular garden bed.

    The raised bed has soil, but what we got didn’t have many weed seeds at all.

    I also find them easier to work on since they are higher off the ground and a little easier to get to when weeding or picking crops. And at my age, anything helps!

    Finally, I like the compact nature of the boxes which keep the plants confined more so than in a regular garden.

    I have had huge regular gardens in the past, and they are a lot of work.

    One idea we have for next year is to plow a small strip – maybe 4 feet wide or so a few feet from the edges of the boxes. This would give us a combination of raised beds and in-ground beds.

  4. Judith says:

    Wonderful “mini-gardens”! How do you keep animals from eating the plants?

  5. Judith:

    We have sprinkled blood meal on the ground, and it seems to work well. I don’t do it – I am a vegetarian, so I hate the thought of it.

    My youngest son, who is in agronomics, suggested “Deer Away” which is a non-hazardous, natural product that mimics the smell of rotten eggs. It keeps deer, squirrels, raccoons, etc. away.

    We did lose a few tops of the corn stalks when they were small until we figured out what to do.

  6. Judith says:

    Thanks, we have not been able to grow vegetables because of the animals.

  7. Margaret says:

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



  8. Ofer El says:

    Your raised bed looks great- pink is very fresh.( saying that having 3 daughter in all pink).

    I did lots of gardening and till 2 years ago did not knew anything about raised beds- but I moved at that time to the UK and was selling garden edgings but than was asked to make raised bed from that material- anyways it is actually fantastic we have 3 in the front garden as we only get the sun at that side.

    We made circle raised bed and wavy one- actually can solve many problems as it made from recycled plastic- so far I am afraid it is not yet in the US. but hopefully later on.

    we thought the same it is great!!

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