How to Plant a Spring Garden with Raised Beds

Monday, May 13, 2013

Since owning our own home we have had a garden of some sort. Some of which were very productive and of which we enjoyed the fruits of our labor, others of which we felt like we planted
$ in the ground and received nothing in return.

My husband of many talents, has mainly been the head gardener. He put much love and care into trying to coax some produce from our plants while I  would  be content to plant flowers in the spring and be kept busy indoors tending to our growing garden of children. I helped by watering... but had no problem leaving the dirty work to him.

 This year for some reason, I felt the urge to prepare a spring garden myself and get down and dirty. It can be tricky in Florida knowing the right time to plant. If you plant too early it might get too cold, too late and it will be too hot. Our winters are usually when Spring begins in most states. It can be cold one day and broiling the next. We have finally had some nice spring weather with some April shower's thrown in for good measure, so I finally decided to put my shoulder to the plow(shovel)...and get a garden started.

I just love the taste of homegrown cherry tomatoes, broccoli and beans. If you haven't tasted these fresh from a garden then you have not experienced their true flavor. Not only is it rewarding to learn how to grow your own garden but there is nothing like sitting down to a meal( at least part of it) that you brought to the table straight from your own backyard.

It really is pretty simple! So don't be intimidated if you have always thought gardening is too hard for you.

1. Prepare your ground/ I suggest raised beds, a friend gave me a wooden bed and my husband found some concrete blocks and bricks that we used also. If you can get your hands on the concrete, do it! This was my first time using raised beds and I have had the best results!

2. Make sure you find a spot that gets a good amount of sun. Most vegetables need about 6 hours of sun. Lettuce, peas, carrots and kale can tolerate some shade though.

3.Put down garden material to block weeds and unwanted grubs. I used card board, you can also use newspaper or buy the ground covering at your local hardware or garden store.

4. Get some good ol' dirt! We have chickens so we take advantage of their manure. We usually put our compost in their yard so it all mixes together and makes for great fertilizer! We also bought some  good top soil.
If you don't happen to have chickens, you can buy cow or chicken manure, you can even call a local horse stable and they will give you some for free if you can haul it.

I let the dirt, compost and manure sit for about a week so it wasn't too strong for the plants

5.Now you are ready to plant! I went to our local nursery and purchased some seedlings they had started: bush beans, romaine lettuce, red salad bowl lettuce and cherry tomatoes. I also bought some broccoli and arugula seeds that I am starting myself. I just put some dirt into the containers we received the plants in, keeping them in a partially shaded spot and am waiting till they get bigger to plant in the beds. Here is a great website if you have any other questions:
The 1st week

2nd week

I planted my tomatoes next to my lettuce in hopes that the lettuce will get some extra shade.

6.Make sure you have a way of watering your garden daily. The best time to water is in the morning,but it wont hurt to water them later in the day if you see they are getting parched. I use a hose with a spray nozzle I have near by. You could even get a little sprinkler and attach it to a hose if you want and let the kids play and get the garden watered at the same time.

 Encourage your children to help plant your garden, I promise they will have a greater understanding of how food grows and they will want to taste the results of their work! Mine were fighting over who could plant what! I let them have their own little plot that they could call their own and take care of.

If you have been afraid to garden, don't be! Raised beds are such a great, low maintenance way to start! Just water  and watch your plants grow and in a matter of weeks, you will be enjoying fresh vegetables from your own back yard!

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