How to Create A Raised Gardening Beds –Texas Sized!

a grape-like cluster of Roma shaped cherry tomatoes

Cherry-Sized Roma Tomatoes, May 25, 2016

Last year we experienced flooding rain in the Spring and Drought like conditions in the Summer and early Fall. Our in-ground garden plants first drowned, then the re-planted ones burned up in the dry Texas heat. We decided that it was time — this year — to re-plan and re-think how we are gardening.

3 quart jars filled will freshly pickled cucumbers

First 3 quarts of canned pickles–May 16, 2016

So far, we have already canned 6 quarts of pickles, and will can about 8 quarts of tomatoes–and more pickles, today and tomorrow. We also harvested 12 pounds of white potatoes (red potatoes are still growing, there are more of those than of the white ones) and volumes of zucchini and spaghetti squash ,   (It has finally stopped raining! So, once again, it is time to harvest from the garden!)

We decided to go with raised bed veggie gardening this year—so that we could better manage the effects of adverse conditions and their effects on plants. We decided to use cinder blocks rather than wood because 1) the blocks won’t rot so the bed will last longer, and 2) blocks are more easily manipulated into a garden bed than are the wooden materials that require a wood-cutting power tool.

After gardening for the past 27 years, we set goals according to a few gardening “luxuries” we wish that we had;

1) reduce the back-breaking labor part, as much as possible,

2) set up and manage the best possible soil for successful root growth,

3) create a set-up that helps plants obtain the highest possible amount of sunlight,

4) create an environment that helps us to manage pests without pesticides (as best as possible),

5) generate a maximum yield with minimum space,

6) create a micro-environment that will extend the gardening season (more days in the year for gardening).

I believe we now have all of these luxuries — time will tell—watch for continued posts about this raised bed gardening process and results and elaborations on how we meet our goals by growing veggies in raised gardening beds (Applied instructional design and plant biology—I love my profession and use my skills at home as well as at work!) .

In this post, the overall production of the beds is described. (NOTE:  this is how we set it up, feel free to change anything as you wish.) For smaller spaces, small beds work great.

  1. Identify a garden location that will receive sun for at least 6 hours a day.
  2. Purchase the concrete cinder blocks and create a bed that will fit your garden area. (One of ours is 10.5 blocks long by 4 blocks wide.)
  3. Add soil. We purchased a “garden mix” sandy soil, then mixed approximately 50 to 60% garden  soil, and 40% to 50% compost — both soil and compost purchased from a vendor. We mixed the soil as it was added to the bed (add soil, add compost, use a garden tool to turn the mixture). We had large beds and used a tractor to place soil in the beds.
  4. Add plants
  5. Water as needed.

The beds are 3 blocks high and provide a nice sitting space — from which one is fully capable of harvesting veggies and pulling the few weeds that appear.

Happy Gardening!


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